The definitions of who is a legal parent and of parenting itself have been changing and expanding for the past decade. With advances in assisted reproductive technology, as well as the increase in adoption, a child may often potentially have more than two parental figures in her life. In spite of these changes, most states have limited the number of legal parents any child can have to two. This decision has an impact on many multi-parent families in divorce proceedings as a court is often forced to determine that only two parents have parenting rights.
It is perhaps partially because of these difficulties involving divorce and child custody issues that lawmakers in California are considering a bill that would allow a child to have more than two parents under the eyes of the law.
State Senator Mark Leno is currently proposing a bill, which would permit children to have more than two parents. California would not be the only state to recognize that the nuclear family is no longer the only potential family structure these days. Pennsylvania, Maine, Delaware and the District of Columbia all allow a child to have more than two parents.
The bill, if passed into law, would place limits on a judge's authority to find that there are more than two parents. Supporters of the bill note that such a finding would only be allowed if the expansion from two parents to three or more would be in the best interests of the child.
During a time when the traditional family structure is changing, many believe that such a law is appropriate to accommodate the growing complexity of modern day families.
Source: NPR, "Proposed California bill would allow a child to have more than 2 parents," Eyder Peralta, July 5, 2012