Multiple Parents

NEW LAWS AFFECTING FAMILIES IN 2014: HAVING MORE THAN TWO LEGAL PARENTS

On Oct. 4, 2013, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that will allow a state court to legally declare that a child has more than two parents, if not doing so would be “detrimental” to the child.

California joins four other states and D.C., which already allow this finding either by statute or as the result of court holdings.

The bill was written by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, to reflect modern family compositions that may involve both same-sex couples and biological parents, according to the Los Angeles Times. Leno commented that his concern is that kids be allowed to continue all loving parental relationships in custody and visitation matters and that all adults who raise children also be required to meet their financial responsibilities toward them should child support become an issue.

Sen. Leno was also interviewed by The Sacramento Bee, which reported that he expected was that it would be rare for a court to find more than two parents, but that the option would be available if it would be in the child’s best interests.

The new law states that the court in deciding whether to recognize more than two parents looks at the detriment to the child of not doing so. To determine detriment, the court must look at “all relevant factors,” including “the harm of removing the child from a stable placement with a parent who has fulfilled the child’s physical … and psychological needs for care and affection … for a substantial period of time.”

In a related matter, the bill also deals with adoption, providing that while normally upon adoption of a child, the existing parents no longer have parental duties or responsibility, now the existing and adoptive parents can together waive that provision, an act that presumably would create another situation allowing more than two legal parents.

The new law now in effect in 2014 provides that courts can start considering more than two parents in child custody, visitation and child support matters. Anyone contemplating legal action that will involve custody, parenting time or child support for a child that could be considered to have more than two parents should speak with an experienced family lawyer for advice concerning this new law. Similarly, anyone in an existing custody or child support arrangement in which more than two parents would be more appropriately involved can pose questions to an experienced California child custody and support attorney about new options.

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