The California Legislature is currently considering a bill that would allow a child to have more than two parents. Senate Bill 1476, introduced by Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco, would amend the state’s current family law statutes to allow a child to have more than two parents when it is in the best interests of the child. The proposed legislation was reportedly designed to protect kids in the event that one or both custodial parents were no longer able to care for a child. The bill has already passed the California Senate.
One example of a situation where a child would be allowed to have more than two parents under the proposed legislation includes when a child has two same-sex parents, but an egg or sperm donor has remained interested in the child’s welfare. The bill would provide that child’s biological parent with the opportunity to act as a legal parent if something happened to both of the child’s same-sex parents. Where applicable, the bill could potentially avoid sending a child to foster care. Instead, a child could be cared for by a willing biological parent. Additionally, the proposed law would require all parents to be responsible for a child’s financial support and other parental obligations.
Critics of the law believe coordinating parental decisions such as extra-curricular activities and school selection between three individuals would create unnecessary strife. Additionally, some believe the law should focus more on biological connections. According to the President of the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists, Diane Wasnicky, the aim of the bill is to be commended, but the current language is unacceptable. She believes the bill conflicts with current California law and legal precedents. Wasnicky stated the proposed legislation would also create difficulty for family law judges when apportioning child support obligations.
According to the bill’s sponsor, three other states and the District of Columbia previously passed similar legislation without creating significant legal problems. State Senator Leno said additional parents would also be required to meet a court-established definition of a parent. Additionally, he stated family law judges in California should be trusted to use their discretion based upon the individual circumstances of each case. The proposed legislation is reportedly not designed to expand the definition of a parent in California, but instead to merely eliminate the current limit of two parents in particular situations.
An adoption law expert from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, Joan Heifetz Hollinger, stated the proposed law would affect a very small number of families. Still, she believes the law would be extremely beneficial. According to Heifetz Hollinger, it is important to remember that families in California do not “fit into a single model.”
If you have questions regarding child custody or other family law matters, contact Doppelt & Forney today. Mr. Doppelt is a hardworking San Diego family law attorney who has more than 20 years of experience assisting clients in California. He helps same-sex couples navigate domestic partnership and marriage laws as well as child adoption procedures. He also counsels former couples through the difficult process of legal separation and divorce. Doppelt & Forney serves clients in Linda Vista, Encinitas, Scripps Ranch, San Diego, and throughout Southern California. For a free confidential consultation with a dedicated family law lawyer, please do not hesitate to contact Doppelt & Forney through the law firm’s website or call us toll-free at (800) ROY IS IT (769-4748).
How to Choose a Divorce Attorney in San Diego Divorce: 2012, San Diego Divorce Lawyer Blog, August 23, 2012
Some More Information Custodial Parents in San Diego Need to Know About Parental Alienation Syndrome in a Legal Separation or Divorce?, San Diego Divorce Lawyer Blog, August 16, 2012
Should a Child Have 3 or More Parents? Calif.’s Legislature Decides, by Laird Harrison, kqed.org
California bill would allow children to have more than two parents, usnews.nbcnews.com
Photo Credit: madlyn, Stock.xchng