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Tri-parenting may be an option for some California families

Families in California these days come in all shapes and sizes. This is especially true if a child is born via surrogacy or sperm donation. This can lead to what is known as "tri-parenting" - situations in which a child will be deemed to legally have three parents, rather than two. In 2013, California passed legislation making it possible for a child to have three parents.

Having a third person legally established as a child's parent can affect many facets of a child's life. For example, having a third parent listed on the child's birth certificate, having a third parent adopt the child or having a third parent be given the opportunity to seek child custody or be ordered to pay child support can all affect how the child is raised. Moreover, many modern families by nature have three parents. For example, same-sex parents may have the help of an opposite-sex friend to conceive a child. If third-parent laws did not exist, it could lead to some parents and children being separated from each other.

There are advantages to having a third parent involved in a child's life. For example, the child could benefit from having more social support. However, while not specifically addressing tri-parenting situations, some professionals maintain that children do best in a two-parent family.

For example, two California women had a daughter with the help of a male friend. However, when the child was born in 2000, only two people could legally be the child's parents unless one of them gave up their rights to the child. The male friend refused to do so, which meant one of the women was not the child's mother for legal purposes. This caused issues, for example, when the non-legal mother tried to register the child for school. However, the three parties agreed to work together in raising the child. And since the adoption of three-parent rights in California, the woman was able to legally adopt the child, now age 17.

As this shows, while there are complexities involved in tri-parenting, it is possible for a child to grow and thrive in such an environment. Those who have questions about the legalities surrounding raising a child through tri-parenting may want to seek legal advice.

Source: WTOP, "Modern family: More courts allowing 3 parents of 1 child," June 18, 2017

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