TRI-PARENTING; LEGAL DEVELOPMENTS

The concept of multiple parents finds its support amongst many as the vocation of parental duties expands in families undergoing separation as well as homosexual families undertaking a journey to having a child.

On March 8, 2017, the Supreme Court Judge of Suffolk County, NY, in the case of Dawn M. vs. Michael M., awarded a legal custody of a 10-year old boy to three parties.

A married couple, Dawn and Michael, began a relationship with Dawn’s best friend, Audria. Dawn was unable to have a child, and under the circumstances, all three parties agreed that Michael and Audria would conceive a child. The Court found the evidence that all three consented to raise the child together as tri-parents.

Shortly after a baby boy, J.M., Michael and Dawn separated.  Michael filed for divorce whilst Audria and Dawn moved in together with J.M.   The court there found reasonable to believe that both Audria and Dawn were indeed involved in raising the child on equal grounds and the boy referred to both as “mommy” and that they all had a co-parenting agreement.

Similarly in 2015, a New Jersey family court judge also awarded tri-custody in D.G. v. K.S. –

In that case, a married homosexual couple, D.G. and S.H. desired to have a child and resorted to utilizing D.G.’s sperm and his friend K.S.’s egg to conceive.

A girl was born in 2009 and was given S.H.’s last name. All three participated in raising the child early on sharing the parenting time between D.G. and S.H. and K.S.The arrangement was complicated by the K.S. decision to move with the child to California to marry her boyfriend, A.A.  D.G. and S.H.’s objected contending to be the legal and psychological parent to the child.

The Court found S.H. to be the “psychological parent” to the child, and awarded the equal legal and residential custody to all the parties.

The court, however, repudiated S.H.’s legal parental rights based on the the New Jersey Parentage Act.  The Act didn’t provide any legal basis under the existing parentage categories recognized by the legislature, namely genetic contribution or adoption.

In 2013, California passed a bill authorizing the courts to find that more than two persons with a claim to parentage – are in fact tri-parents if the court finds that recognizing only two parents would be detrimental to the child.

The majority of states now allow children to have two parents leaving certain social groups in a parental quandary.

Even the human genome technology now can provide for a genetically engineered birth of a healthy child with the genetic material from three individuals.

Although there are no tri-parenting statutes in DC yet; there is legislative movement toward recognizing parenting complexities in our modern times.

A new law regarding surrogate pregnancies just enacted in April does not address a particular number of “intended parents” who can have contact with a surrogate.

Moreover, in the current DC third party custody Statute there is nothing that prevents a family court Judge ordering visitation or even custody to a third party if in fact such would be in the best interests of the child and there has been significant connection between the third party and the child.O

Contact our DC Child Custody Lawyers to schedule an initial case evaluation.

Categories: Family Law and Uncategorized.