SACRAMENTO, CA - It's a problem many don't think about, but State Sen. Mark Leno said California courts have an issue only legally recognizing two parents.
The democratic senator from San Francisco introduced SB 1476, which would allow a judge to legally recognize more than two parents, if doing so would benefit the child.
Leno said common examples come from step-mothers or step-fathers, when the biological parent is still apart of the child's life.
In court, step-moms and step-dads don't have any legal standing, unless the child is legally adopted.
Other instances come from same-sex marriages, when the surrogate mother or father is a part of the child's life.
In 2011, the 2nd District Court of Appeals in Los Angeles reversed a lower court decision that would have allowed multiple parents to be recognized.
Pennsylvania, Maine, Delaware and the District of Columbia have a similar law.
"This authority can only be used if required to protect the best interest of the child," said Leno. "So, if it's not required to protect the best interest of the child, that authority can't be used."
Opponents of the bill, including the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists, said unforeseen consequences will arise.
"Tax deductions, public assistance, Social Security rights and more," Association President Diane Wasznicky said.
But Leno argues that the Court's discretion will be enough to avoid any issues.
"We're recognizing that families are created in many fashions," Leno said. "This doesn't require anyone to do anything, it merely gives courts an authority so that they can use their best judgement."
On News10's Facebook page, viewers seem to split down the middle.
Karen Campbell wrote, "It's not just gay couples whose children have more than 2 parents. My cousin's kids have 3 people who are their parents: her, the useless jerk who refused to pay child support after the divorce, and the upstanding man who stepped in to support and raise someone else's children. Since the law will not allow the bio-father to be removed as a parent without a formal adoption (which he won't sign off on because he's a control freak), the man who paid their bills and loves them more than the bio-father has no legal parenthood rights, and in case of the mother's death would not get custody of the children he raised. What's wrong with this picture?"
Countering, Mary Carrillo Davey wrote, "If you choose to have sex with an idiot then that is your fault. This law is just a mess waiting to happen. What if the new legal adults separate and you now have 4 people fighting for time with the kid. It should be up the parent who brought in a new person into the family to keep the bond in tact, not the courts."
By Nick Monacelli, firstname.lastname@example.org