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Multiple Parents: The Way of the Future?Divorce and family law differs from state to state. Naturally, the more liberal the state tends to be, the more lax the laws are. That being said, California is viewed as a state that does things a little differently in terms of governing its people, especially in terms of family law. As a result, it doesn’t come as a surprise that many advances in individual rights are fought for first and ultimately pioneered within the Golden State.

The most recently proposed measure to California law that is seen as outside the box, and radical is legally recognized “multiple parents” for a child. Now, the law recognizes two parents per child currently; however, the proposed measure could open the possibility that one child might have three or four legally recognized parents.

Defining a Parent
Under all family law definitions for the 50 states, a parent is defined as: “a person who begets or brings forth offspring. A person who legally adopts a child, a person or entity that owes to a child a legally imposed duty of support or a stepparent where designated by statute.” This being said, this new measure, if passed would make child custody arrangements, surrogacy agreements, child support orders and adoptions even more complicated than they already are to date.

Advantages of the Measure
Allowing for legal recognition of more than two parents per child could actually help the California family court system to more accurately assess the best needs of the child in a child custody case. Since this is the modern era, “modern families” are springing up more and more, meaning, children have two loving biological parents and one or two loving step parents in the picture. Sometimes families are even more complex in that parents and grandparents, or two biological parents and a same sex parent comprise a child’s family.

In situations like these, one or two parties (and sometimes more) are often left without legal rights and responsibilities to the child that they call their own, simply because of the way the law defines a parent, even though they are indeed one of the child’s parents by all other definitions. The proposed “multiple parents” bill would begin to address these complexities.

Disadvantages of the Measure
Although the benefits of this bill seem great, remember there are two sides to every coin. The bill would also create several complexities of its own accord. The benefits of this bill may, in some senses, be outweighed by the challenges that multiple parent recognition would create.

If the bill passes and there are multiple parents recognized under the law, what would happen if any of the couples decided to split or move? How could a court fairly arrange child support for a child with multiple parents? The custody agreement would be dicey and have to be redrafted in order to satisfy the needs of each “parent”. As good as an idea as it seems, the possibility of overcrowding seems just too great.

There is no doubt that family law is indeed behind the times in many areas. However, there are a multitude of people in the court system who fight everyday in order for it to be caught up to speed. If this bill passes, there will need to be a fine toothed comb run through it first. The positives and negatives need to be greatly looked into. The bottom line is, the best interest of the child is as stake and that is whose favor the courts will ultimately rule in.

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