Bill Recognizing More Than Two Parents Per Child May Have Custody Repercussions Later
Fairfax, VA (Law Firm Newswire) September 10, 2012 – A new bill in front of the California State Assembly would allow judges to recognize more than two parents for one child.
The legislation has passed the California Senate and is slated to be sent to the governor’s office soon.
Sen. Mark Leno (D) originally introduced the bill in response to a Court of Appeals ruling that stated courts did not have the authority to recognize more than two parents for a child, and that the legislature must grant them that ability. The Court of Appeals ruling overturned a lower court decision, which stated that a family court could recognize more than two legal parents, if and when necessary, to protect the best interests of the child.
The bill, SB 1476, would allow a judge the freedom to decide on a case-by-case basis if there was cause to recognize more than two parents; it would not change California’s legal requirements, nor would it expand the definition of who may legally qualify as a parent. By eliminating the current limit of two parents per child, the law would ostensibly be used in cases where identifying a third parent, would allow for an additional custody option when deciding on placement for a child.
“One of the fascinating issues about family law is that it is always changing,” indicated Fairfax divorce attorney Lisa McDevitt. “It will be interesting to see how this may play out later in terms of divorce and custody issues in other states.” If passed, SB 1476 would be similar to legislation in Delaware, Maine, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.
Opponents of the bill have stated that it might result in children becoming confused, or being raised in a too-relaxed family structure. Sen. Leno stated that the bill was instigated after a 2011 state appellate court case in which a child had, as parents, a lesbian couple, as well as a known biological father.
When one parent went to prison and another parent was hospitalized, the child’s biological father attempted to step in. Instead, the state took custody, ruling that the biological father was unable to be named legal guardian due to California’s current law, which allows a limit of two parents per child.
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