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California considering extending the legal family
(Blogmensgo, July 19, 2012) Mark Leno, a Democratic senator from California, is the instigator of a proposed law on parental status to expand the notion of legal parenthood to better correspond with changes in family and society California. If passed as is, would allow a child to have up to four legal parents: those who have created and those who nurtured the child.
The bill (SB 1416) amending the family code has been under review in the Senate and the House since May 2012. The initial text was amended in committee several times before crossing each step successfully, despite opposition from Republicans. The date of the possible final adoption is not yet known.
If passed as is, the text would expand the notion of fatherhood beyond the two legal parents and allow justice to see that the same child may have "two putative parents, whatever the legal status of parentage".
Until now, a child may have a biological father and a mother or legal parents, a father and a mother who recognized the child within certain legal procedures. The future law would expand the notion of authorship to the biological parents and legal parents. In other words, the text aims to take into account both parent families, blended families and step-parents.
Such a provision would be particularly beneficial to couples of gays and lesbians who are organized so that each of the two couples have children through assisted reproduction.
Obtaining multiple paternity would however not be automatic. Only a competent judicial authority - perhaps a family court judge - would rule on such cases, therefore, deciding whether an extension of paternity is appropriate. In the case of a lesbian couple with child, the parent may well be recognized as legal father, or non-biological mother and recognized as legitimate mother having the same rights and duties as the partner. It would be the same principle in the case of a gay couple who used a surrogate mother or a donor oocyte.
The text in preparation also evokes the rights and status access, custody, parental authority, education, social benefits and inheritance of the two, three or four parents under its new legal status in relation the child.
If the legislation passes, California would become the first U.S. state to introduce a notion of authorship expanded to more than two legal parents. Other states prefer to give the status of "de facto parent" without changing their family code.
This article has been translated from our French blog, to view the original, click here.