CALIFORNIA STATE LAW TO GIVE CHILDREN MORE THAN TWO PARENTS

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So how many parents does it take to raise a child in California?  Apparently it could take more than two.  At least that’s if you believe what the California Assembly has to say.  For in their eternal wisdom, the Golden State’s lawmakers have passed new legislation that would enable California to become the fifth state to allow judges to declare a child has more than two legal parents.

SB274 says that a judge could legally recognize additional parents if failure to do so would be detrimental to the child.  The bill was sponsored by Democratic state Senator Mark Leno.

Currently, state law allows courts to acknowledge only two people as parents.  Supporters of the bill say that the statute does not give judges any leeway to exercise their own judgment based on a child’s situation.

Leno’s bill was prompted by a 2011 court case involving a California girl whose legal parent could not care for her and whose biological father was deemed not a parent.  In that case, the child ended up in state custody because her birth mother became incarcerated and her other legal parent was hospitalized.

Supporters of the bill, that was passed 43 to 27, also say that having additional parenting options gives a child suffering from such parenting difficulties a better chance to finally settle down into a stable family environment.  Supporters have acknowledged concerns about state sponsored child care systems in general, and the traumatic upbringing the system brings to most of the children who are processed through it.

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INVOLVED PARENTS HELP FAMILY BY HELPING CHILDREN IN SCHOOL

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Did you see that according to a study performed through three sociology departments at North Carolina State University, Brigham Young, and the University of California, parental involvement has as much impact as school choice as to whether a child will excel in school.  The research further determined that parental involvement is more significant in a child’s academic performance than what the school might have to offer.

Small tasks such as showing interest in homework and attending school functions were shown through the study to have an impact on how well kids perform in school.  The study concluded that parents need to be aware of how important they are, and they need to invest time in their children.  For a family to be successful from the children’s perspective, parents need to check homework, attend school events, and let their children know that school is important.

GOVERNOR BROWN VETOES BILL TO ALLOW MORE THAN 2 PARENTS

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Last month California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed legislation that would have allowed children to have more than two parents.  The bill would have permitted judges to recognize multiple parents if doing so would be “required in the best interest of the child.”

California state Senator Mark Leno had proposed the multiple-parents measure, SB 1476, in response to surrogate births, same-sex parenthood, assisted reproduction and other technological and societal changes that create new possibilities for nontraditional households.  In his veto message, Gov. Brown urged more study of the bill’s potential ramifications.  The Governor believes the bill’s ambiguities may lead to “unintended consequences.”

Under the proposed bill, if three or more people who act as parents for a child could not agree on custody, visitation, and child support, a judge would have discretion to split those things up among them.  Supporters of SB 1476 believe that, when necessary, designating multiple parents could enhance a child’s prospects for financial support, health insurance or Social Security benefits, thus reducing the state’s potential financial responsibilities.  This bill did not necessarily envision giving multiple parents equal time with a child, however, stating that the minor’s best interest and stability “may mean that not all parents share legal or physical custody.”

Opponents of the bill argue that it did not adequately consider the legal ramifications of designating multiple parents for a child in other areas of the law, including tax deductions, probate, Social Security, wrongful death and education benefits.  The new law would also have required California to set new guidelines and reprogram its automated system for determining child support.

CALIFORNIA: PROPOSED BILL WOULD ALLOW MORE THAN 2 PARENTS

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According to a recent editorial in the Los Angeles Times, there is a bill heading to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk that would allow California family law courts to determine that a child has more than two legal parents.  The law has been proposed due to the fact that family law has become even more complicated as family situations have changed.

Currently, California only allows for two partners, whether they’re a child’s biological or adoptive parents, to be legally considered that child’s parents.  Democrat Mark Leno, a State Senator from San Francisco, who introduced the bill, was spurred on by a case where a lesbian couple split up, and one of the partners subsequently broke from the relationship, turned heterosexual and was impregnated by a man.  She then returned to her former female partner but the two fought – one ending up in the hospital, the other in jail.  The daughter ended up in foster care because her biological father had no parental rights.

During the political process in California, Republicans shunned the bill, yet, it passed in both houses after attracting sufficient support from Democrats.  Opponents argue that the bill would have implications going well beyond family law courts, adding costly wrinkles in cases involving things such as citizenship, tax deductions, probate, and other matters people litigate over.  Supporters of the bill believe it would help the law to keep up with the changing landscape of a family’s nuclear foundation.