Three is Not a Crowd in California Parenting Law
California is revolutionary in the realm of parenting law with a statute that allows 3+ parentage under certain circumstances. Around the country, more than a dozen states have now found in favor of a 3+ parent arrangement in extraordinary situations. Read more below and see the heartwarming story of three parents welcoming children into their lives and being recognized by the law.
A California statute, SB 274, signed into law in October 2013, allows courts to declare that a child has more than two parents for all legal purposes. The genesis of the statute was a case where a lesbian couple’s child ended up in foster care and the biological father failed to gain custody.
The law actually allows for more than three parents, placing no limits on the number of parents a child can have. The California legislature said the following: “Most children have two parents, but in rare cases, children have more than two people who are that child’s parent in every way. Separating a child from a parent has a devastating psychological and emotional impact on the child, and courts must have the power to protect children from this harm.”
Parents have to otherwise fit into the rubric of existing California family law. For example, the law does not expand parental rights for grandparents or siblings.
Interested in seeing how a three parent family works? The story of Ian Jenkins and his
partners Alan and Jeremy is truly special.
Ian, Alan and Jeremy are in a polyamorous relationship and are the proud parents of two toddlers. The partners have been together over 8 years. They have gone through herculean efforts to be recognized on their children’s birth certificates – an important step to take to protect their parental rights.
At first Ian and Alan were together. They made a home in San Diego. Jeremy joined the family in 2012 after Ian and Alan had been together for ten years.
Ultimately, they decided to become parents, which involved coordinating egg donation and surrogacy. One of Alan’s childhood friends, Meghan, agreed to be an egg donor and remain in the child’s life as a sort of “aunt.” Another female friend agreed to be a surrogate.
The family then spent nearly $121,000 on contracts, legal fees, medical procedures and tests for their firstborn, Piper. As part of that, they had to hire legal counsel to craft parenting agreements to protect all the parents’ custody rights, since they were not married (and could not be married under California’s bigamy prohibitions).
The biggest battle was to get the parents acknowledged on Piper’s birth certificate. It was only after impassioned pleas to the law and facts that the judge overseeing their case agreed to apply the law as written to add their names to the birth certificate.
They trio now have a second child – Parker - who was born in 2019. Parker is the product of the same egg donor but a different surrogate.
The two children have different fathers but the same mother – and everyone is a happy family!
If you have any question about your rights in a 3+ parent relationship, feel free to schedule a free initial consultation with the Law Offices of Jane Migachyov NOW.