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Bill stretching parental rights gets Michigan families' notice

Would it be beneficial for Michigan children to have more than two parents? Legislation in California to expand legal parenting could provide more resources for kids when families involve more than two adults who care about a child's well-being. The proposal recognizes "extra" parents who are connected to children through same-sex marriages, surrogacy, fertility methods and adoption.

A child was recently forced into foster care when her married same-sex parents could no longer continue to take care of the girl. One parent was imprisoned and the other was hospitalized. The child's biological father, who had a role in the girl's life, was denied the chance to help raise the child since no law existed to give him fathers' rights.

The proposed legislation would require additional parents to meet court qualifications. All parents and a family law judge would have to agree on visitation, child support and custody matters.

A multiple parent law would coincide with the changing structure of American families, which proponents argue is no longer confined to a mother and a father. Many children have close relationships with step-parents, biological parents and same-sex parents within and outside their homes.

Experts say the extension of legal parenthood to biological parents of adopted children could cause concerns. Many adoptive parents are sensitive to any parental input from biological parents, even in open adoptions. Adoption specialists concede that the law could be useful if an adopted child's well-being is at stake, although the situation would be rare.

The authors of the legislation believe that a multiple parent law could only aid children in need rather than confuse or congest the current laws of parenting. With full passage, California could become the fourth state to recognize multiple legal parents who can emotionally, physically and financially support children. Whether Michigan lawmakers consider similar legislation may depend on the success of the measure in other states.

Source: ABC News, "My Three Daddies: California Eyes Multiple Parenting Law," Susan Donaldson James, July 3, 2012

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