New California Legislation to Allow More Than Two Parents

ABC’s Modern Family depicts a different type of family in an attempt to emulate a more accurate picture of the average American household. Modernly, many families are not simply made up of a heterosexual couple raising a few children in a suburban neighborhood. Modern Family illustrates the struggle same-sex couples have adopting children, the difficulties of living in a blended family, and coping with divorce. Because of the new changes emerging in American households, parenting of children has become more complicated. Children do not necessarily only have two parental figures in their lives anymore. California family legislators have begun to recognize the changes occurring and have proposed a new law that could expand the view of traditional families.

Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco has proposed new legislation that has the potential to give San Diego residents more parenting options. Under current laws, a child may only have two legal parents. The proposal will create the possibility for a child to have a parent-child relationship with more than two parents. Although the number of permitted parents may change, the same standard of awarding custody and visitation would apply. The court will award custody and visitation of the child amongst all the parents in accordance with the best interest of the child.

The proposal’s controversial nature has garnered significant criticism from conservative groups founded on the belief that two parents, one mother and one father, should raise a child. Opponents of the proposal argue that it is merely a means to further the same-sex marriage movement. This argument is fiercely contested by the bill’s proponents who claim it has nothing to do with “culture wars” and is solely based on the best interest of the children involved in custody disputes. Additionally, opponents claim that the bill would lead to more instability for children as a result of increased conflict.

The types of three-parent scenarios anticipated by the proposed legislation include: a same-sex couple and a surrogate who carried the child and a mother who remarries and wants her child to be adopted by her new husband and still maintain a relationship with his or her father. The bill was proposed in the wake of a California appellate court decision involving a child with two mothers. The child’s two parents both became unavailable when one mother was incarcerated and the other was hospitalized. Under current California law, the child’s father was unable to act on her behalf because the law only recognizes two parents. Proponents of the law argue that it will gives judges more options in order to act in the best interest of the child. By removing a legal barrier, the judge will have the ability to create new custody arrangements that may better protect the child’s needs. It is important to note that the legal definition of a “parent” will remain the same.

Please contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding child custody and visitation. Nancy J. Bickford is the only attorney in San Diego County representing clients in divorces, who is a Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) and who is actively licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.

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