When Does the Law Recognize More than Two Parents for One Child?

Parental Rights

The family legal system usually functions just a few steps behind the evolution of the American family. It usually takes a fairly significant presence of a certain “kind” of American family in popular and mainstream culture before the law broadly embraces change. For example, it took a long time after divorce became commonplace before the family legal system began recognizing that stepparents who are significantly invested in their stepchildren’s lives should be entitled to petition for visitation rights in the event of divorce. As the American family evolves, so does the law… just not always at the same rate.

It is therefore perhaps unsurprising that the law does not yet deal consistently with the idea that more than two individuals could desire to be legally recognized as the parents of a specific child. Stepparents, egg and sperm donors who remain invested in the lives of the children they helped conceive, etc. are increasingly questioning why the law only recognizes two parents at a time in relation to a specific child.  In some so-called “multi-parent states” that restrictive reality is slowly beginning to change.

Legal Recognition of More than Two Parents

In some multi-parent states, a child can have three or four legally recognized parents, under certain circumstances. Please remember that this area of law is evolving, so it is treated differently in various areas of the country. If you are interested in exploring this topic, consulting with an experienced family law attorney will help to clarify your family’s legal options based on your circumstances and your location.

For example, California has had a law in place since 2013 that allows children to have more than two legally recognized parents under certain circumstances. Third-parent adoptions are also recognized in a handful of states including Oregon, Washington, and Massachusetts. Some states also allow for legally “de facto” third parents, which brings its own unique set of legal rights and responsibilities to the table.

Even if your state does not yet recognize multi-parent arrangements, it could soon. Your own situation could even be groundbreaking, depending on your circumstances and your state’s laws. In areas of law that are rapidly evolving, one really never knows!

Child Custody Assistance Is Available

If you have questions about child custody, child support, paternity or any other legal matter related to parenting, please do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with our firm. Confidential consultations do not obligate parents to take any legal action. They simply serve as conversations designed to ensure that your questions are answered and that you understand your legal options. If after speaking with a lawyer you decide to take any kind of legal action, they can provide experienced professional guidance for you and your family.

When it comes to parenting and the law, there are no silly, stupid or irrelevant questions. Please feel free to contact a lawyer, like a child custody lawyer in Arlington, TX, today so that we can help you sort through any concerns you may have and answer any questions that may be on your mind.

Thank you to the experts at Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC, for their contributions to family law.