Modern Family Bill acknowledges rights of “de facto” parents

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California judges may soon have the discretion to recognize more than two parents when considering custodial rights and responsibilities in family court, according to a bill sponsored by state senator Mark Leno.

The Modern Family Bill (SB1476) would allow family courts to consider the parental rights of “de facto” parents (rearing family members or non-biological parental figures of the child) in addition to biological parents.

“Although most children have two legal parents, there are many children who have more than two people who act as parents,” the bill states. “For example, a man who started dating a woman while she was pregnant may raise the child with the mother, while the child is also encouraged to develop a relationship with his or her biological father. Two women in a relationship may also decide to conceive a child with a male friend, with the intent that all three of them raise the child together.”

The bill aims at adapting state law to changing climate of modern parenting; including adoption, domestic partnership, step-parents and even same-sex couples. “In situations where non-biological adults are acting as parents, and fit in one of the presumptions of parentage outlined by law, more than two adults can have a claim of parentage.”

Organizations like the Traditional Values Coalition of California oppose the bill, which they feel is Leno’s attempt at pushing forward the legalization of same-sex marriage.

The bill does not include any requests for the recognition of same-sex marriage, but Leno is openly gay.

According to the bill Delaware, Maine, Pennsylvania and D. C. all recognize “that there are situations where a child can have more than two people in his or her life with the rights and responsibilities of parents.”

The bill has passed the state senate and now moves forward to the assembly.


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