July 3, 2012 @ 10:26 AM


As is the norm, California only allows children to have no more than two lawful parents for a child. Although in most states the limitation for these two parents is mother and father (e.g. female and male), in some states, the parents may be of the same gender, typically through adoption, step-parent adoption or surrogacy. Now, a new bill is pending in California which would allow a child to have more than two legal parents.

The bill pending in the California Senate (SB 1486), was introduced by Senator Mark Leno (D) from San Francisco.  “The bill brings California into the 21st century, recognizing that there are more than Ozzie and Harriet families today,” Leno told the Sacremento Bee. He said the bill is not meant to expand the definition of who can qualify as a parent, but rather to eliminate the limit of two per child. The bill has already passed in the Senate in late May and is scheduled to be considered by the Assembly Appropriations Committee on July 9.

MSNBC reports that Leno said inspiration for the bill came from a 2011 state appellate court case in which a young girl had two mothers. When one of the mothers was sent to prison and the other was hospitalized, the girl’s biological father wished to care for her. The court, however, ruled the biological father could not be a legal guardian because of California’s current law allowing only two parents per child. The state took custody of the child.

According to Senator Leno, similar legislation already exists in Delaware, Maine and Pennsylvania, as well as the District of Columbia. Not everyone is supportive. The President of the Association of Certified Family Law Specialists, Diane Wasznicky, states it would create an exception to California’s formula for child support payments. Benjamin Lopez, a legislative analyst for the Traditional Values Coalition, criticized the bill as an attempt to “revamp, redefine and muddy the waters” of family structure in the drive to legalize gay marriage, as reported by the Sacramento Bee.

MSNBC reports that If the bill passes, families with three or more parents would share custody, financial responsibility and visitation for the child, based on a judge’s determination of each parent’s wealth and the time spent with the child. The legislation does not place any limit on the number of recognized parents a child could have.


Adoption101.com is not taking a position for, or against, the bill, but is bringing it to the attention of California residents to form their own opinion.

From the staff at adoption101.com