A three-parent family might seem unusual, but it is a family dynamic many children are experiencing. For example, a same sex couple could have a child with a sperm donation from a relative or close friend. The three adults may decide they’d all like to be involved in raising the child. Because of the 3rd parent law, that scenario is now possible and protected under the law.
The “3rd parent law,” California Senate Bill No. 274 provides protection for children and families by recognizing legal rights and responsibilities of two or more adults in the life of a child. This law offers many benefits for families who have or want more than two legal parents. It provides legal recognition for adults who are acting as parents in every other way. It can also protect non-traditional family structures.
Could a Non-Intended Parent Assert Legal Rights?
The concern of the 3rd parent law is that it may allow a non-intended parent to seek legal recognition and assert legal parental rights. For example, if a couple uses a sperm donor but intends to only have two parents, could this law be misused by the sperm donor to seek parenting rights over the objections of the couple? This scenario would create chaos for most families.
The reality is that most parents don’t welcome additional adults interfering in their child’s life or making personal decisions about the child’s daily life, health, schooling and future. Under the specific phrasing of the 3rd parent law, an unintended parent could claim parental rights. This can happen even if a child already has two responsible and dedicated parents. The court may find a child has three parents if there is an existing parent-child bond with more than two people. This can happen even over the objections of two of the parents.
It is important to understand that the 3rd parent law does not require a child to have more than two parents. It does not automatically create more than two parents, but allows a court to find that a child may have more than two parents.
Protection Against Non-Intended Parents
The law is intended to protect families and children, not increase stress for children and their families. Parents can protect against possible 3rd parent challenges by setting up a binding legal agreement between all involved adults before the child’s birth. The best way to protect against unintended parents is to seek advice from a California family law attorney prior to entering into any parental agreements with potential third or even fourth parents.