Three's no longer a crowd — bill would allow 3 parents to be recognized for a child

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A view of the California State Capitol in Sacramento.

The California state Senate is expected to take up a final vote as early as Tuesday that would allow more than two people to be the legal parents of a child. Critics say the change could confuse children; others have called it a backdoor effort to legitimize same-sex marriage. The author, Sen. Mark Leno (D-SF), says he’s trying to protect children.

Leno was inspired to write Senate Bill 1476 when he heard about the 2011 state appellate case of a child who ended up in foster care even though she had two mothers. That happened after one of her moms was sent to prison, and the second was hospitalized. The child’s biological father wanted to take custody, but he couldn’t because California state law only recognizes two parents for each child.

Sen. Leno’s bill would remove that cap and allow multiple parents to share custody, financial support and visitation rights. The change would be limited to families with all parties living in California and make it one of only a handful of states that recognize multiple parents

Leno says family law should be updated to reflect the differing combinations of parents now raising children.

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