In San Diego and throughout the State of California, the structure of the family unit has undergone a variety of changes over the years. And in many ways, as family dynamics change, the law has been evolving to protect the interests and rights of the children involved. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a Bill that will allow children to have more than two legal parents. There are many rights and responsibilities that come with the designation of “legal parent,” such as child custody and visitation, child support and other related matters. Anyone who is confronting a child custody issue or dispute is encouraged to contact a local family law attorney to help protect parental rights and preserve the best interests of the children.
Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), who authored the Bill, argues that the legislation was necessary to address the changing complexion of the family, including situations in which same-sex couples have children with an opposite-sex biological parent. We recently addressed this topic in a blog post covering the State Assembly’s passage of the Bill, before it went on to the Senate. Under the new law, courts will be permitted to recognize more than two legal parents, making it possible for financial obligations and custody to be shared by everyone involved in raising the child.
Opponents of the Bill, including advocates for traditional families, say that the new legislative measure is a mistake. One argument stresses that having more than two legal parents will create the potential for more conflict over what is best for a child and result in more complicated disputes in court. Interestingly enough, the Governor vetoed a similar bill last year. So far, there has been no explanation as to why he signed the legislation this time around.
When the matter is in question, California procedure sets forth rules and requirements to follow in order to establish who are a child’s legal parents. Such matters are known as “parentage cases,” or “paternity cases” where the court issues orders that identify the child’s legal parents. There are many important reasons to establish parentage for a child. From a legal standpoint, parentage affords the child the same rights and privileges as those of a child whose parents are married. Some of these privileges and rights include: 1) legal documentation identifying both parents; 2) financial support from both parents; 3) access to family medical records and history; 4) having both parents’ names on the child’s birth certificate; 5) health insurance coverage from either parent; 6) the right to inherit from either; and 7) the right to receive social security and veteran’s benefits, when available.
Under the law, as soon as parentage is established, the court will have the authority make orders for child support, health insurance, child custody, visitation, name change, and reimbursement of pregnancy and birth expenses. Proponents of the new law argue that it places the interests of children first and that judges will not be restricted to rule in ways that could negatively impact a child. Child custody matters are full of complicated details. Bringing any related action in a San Diego court requires full knowledge of the local court rules and procedures.
Parents with questions about child custody matters are encouraged to contact Doppelt & Forney. Mr. Doppelt is a knowledgeable family law attorney with more than 20 years of experience representing parents in Southern California. Doppelt & Forney serves clients in Linda Vista, Encinitas, Scripps Ranch, San Diego, and throughout Southern California. For a consultation with a dedicated family lawyer, contact Doppelt & Forney through the law firm’s website or give us a call toll-free at (800) ROY IS IT (769-4748).
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