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California is one of the only states that provides and protects a third parent’s right to parent under certain circumstances. Non-traditional relationships, platonic parenting, grandparents involved in children’s lives, and polyamorous relationships are more common than ever making a need for a third parent recognition. 

In 2013, California enacted Family Code Section 7612(c) which provides a child may have a parent-child relationship with more than two parents. The statute allows for the recognition of non-biological parents in addition to biological parents. 

Most states create a presumption the man married to a woman who becomes pregnant is the father of the resulting child. Traditionally, this can be challenged within two years of the child’s birth resulting in the husband foregoing parental rights.

California law allows a creative option to overcome this presumption: courts can declare a child has more than two parents. All three parents can be included in child custody and support. The court must make the finding more than two parents are “necessary to protect the child from the detriment of being separated from one of his or her parents.”

The court first determines whether or not the child has a presumed parent.

When that child has two presumed parents, the court decides whether the recognition of only two parents is detrimental to the child. The court places an emphasis on preserving bonds and avoiding emotional, psychological, and financial consequences for a child who may be separated from a parent they have always known.

Wondering how this plays out in a practical sense?

A man in California who is not the biological father of child can gain legal parental status of the child under the “three-parent” law. Here are some of the scenarios in which this could take place:

  • Marrying the mother of the child before the date of the child’s birth
  • A same sex couple recognizing the biological parent of the child
  • Welcoming the child into one’s home and accepting them as their own
  • Assertion of parental rights
  • A married couple exploring polyamory gets pregnant by a third party 

If you have a three-parent relationship and are curious about your rights, contact Minella Law Group to see how we can help you today. We welcome all families with new or existing cases. 



[image courtesy of pexels]

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