California Children Could Soon Have More Than Just Two Parents

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The parent-child relationship bill (SB 1476) -- introduced by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) -- would eliminate the numeric limit of legally recognized parents currently set at two, the Sacramento Bee reports.

What does Sen. Leno intend to accomplish with the parent-child relationship bill?

As outlined on the senator's website, SB 1476 gives "courts the flexibility to protect children who have parent-child relationships with more than two people." Around the Capitol highlights that a change to the number of legally recognized parents a child may have would also alter California's adjudication of visitation and child support obligations.

Is there a cap on the number of legally recognized parents a child could have under the bill?

No, there is no limit to the number of parents a court could recognize as parents of one child.

Why is there a need for a child to have more than two parents?

"The bill brings California into the 21st century, recognizing that there are more than Ozzie and Harriet families today," Leno told the Sacramento Bee. SB 1476 recognizes the change in family dynamics, taking into account surrogacy, same-sex couples and other nontraditional families. Examples include families consisting of remarried biological parents and non-custodial parents who still want to keep up the relationships with their children.

What do supporters of an increase in the number of legally recognized parents say?

Believing the change to be in the best interest of children having relationships with biological parents as well as parent figures added by one or the other biological parent at some time, they point to the increased likelihood of financial support and health insurance availability. Supporters also point to cases where two unfit parents raise children; rather than having these children sent to foster care, a court may order a third legally recognized parent to raise the youngsters.

How do opponents counter these arguments?

The Association of Certified Family Law Specialists points toward legal confusion with respect to citizenship, probate, welfare and tax deductions. Wondering about the many daily decisions that parenting a child requires, a San Francisco resident told WGGB that perhaps "it's not such a good idea." The Traditional Values Coalition termed Leno's parent-child relationship bill an attempt to redefine family structure in the senator's quest to legalize gay marriage, MSNBC reports.

Do California lawmakers favor or oppose the proposed law?

SB 1476 passed the California senate with 24 votes in favor of the law and 13 senators voting against it, Around the Capitol details. The bill now also needs to clear the assembly and, if passed, receive Gov. Jerry Brown's approval.

Sylvia Cochran is a Los Angeles area resident with a firm finger on the pulse of California politics. Talk radio junkie, community volunteer and politically independent, she scrutinizes the good and the bad from both sides of the political aisle.

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