One Recent Example of the Marital Presumption In Action

There has been a lot of discussion of the marital presumption here, even though I actually haven’t posted on it recently.  (It’s part of the discussion in the comments on the last post–one about surrogacy–for example.)   Since this very recent case from Michigan crossed my desk, I thought I’d use it as an opportunity to offer a few thoughts.   (You can find much more discussion under these posts if you like.)

A few explanatory words, first.   (Some of this is quite repetitious if you  have been reading the comments closely, for which I apologize.  But for others this might be useful.)

The marital presumption is an ancient one–quite literally hundreds of years old.  The idea (originally) was that if a married woman gave birth, the husband was presumed to be the father of the child.   This wasn’t necessarily a presumption of fact–it wasn’t that people assumed that the husband was the genetic father.   They knew perfectly well that sometimes he was not.   But the husband was presumed to be the legal father.

In its initial form, this was a strong presumption.  What I mean was it was hard for a husband to rebut the presumption and establish that he was not the legal father.  This was at least in part because illegitimate children were very harshly treated in law.  The presumption essentially made many children legitimate without any regard for whether there were conceived in an extramarital affair.

Now times have changed quite a bit in at least two important regards.   First, we (speaking generally of society) have recognized that it is not fair to punish children because of the marital status of their parents.  It’s hardly within the child’s control, after all.  So legal structures that disadvantage children of unmarried parents are viewed with skepticism.  (This is not to say they are gone.)   Second, we have cheap, fast and reliable DNA testing at our disposal.   Thus, the truth of a child’s genetic parentage is more readily accessible to us.

Given these changes the marital presumption has also changed.   This is unsurprising.  Perhaps what is remarkable is that it has survived at all.  But survived it has and I believe every state in the US still has some version of the presumption.  (There is, however, a good deal of variance state to state which can  make this an extremely confusing area of law. )

Generally the presumption can now be rebutted more readily–using DNA tests.  But it isn’t as simple as saying that you can use DNA tests to rebut the presumption whenever they show something at odds with the presumption.   In a very well known Supreme Court decision (Michael H vs. Gerald D) Michael (who was the genetic father of the child in question) was not allowed to use DNA tests to rebut the presumption that Gerald (who was married to Carole, who had given birth to the child) was the legal father of the child.   That’s because Gerald and Carole stood together against Michael and the Court preferred the marital family.   I think (though cannot say for sure) that a majority of states would reach the same result today–where the husband and wife want to claim the child as their own and raise it within the marriage, they can do so–and DNA tests don’t make any difference.

On the other hand, under CA law as it stood then,  if Gerald had wanted to disclaim the child, he could have used the DNA tests to do so.   Where once the presumption had worked to the disadvantage of the husband (forcing him to assume parentage of a child not genetically his) now it works to the husband’s advantage (allowing him to disclaim or claim a child as he chooses.)   I’m quite tempted to say that this isn’t about genetics–it is about power.   And the power to embrace a child if you want comes with marriage.

Now to the Michigan case.   David and Tracy Parks were married.   Tracy gave birth to a child during the marriage.  The parties divorced in 2011.   Custody orders were entered.

In 2013 Tracy sought to terminate David Parks’ parental rights–asserting that another man (David Achinger) was the genetic father of the child.   Apparently genetic testing supported this assertion.

Now David Parks was a legal parent of the child by virtue of the marital presumption.   And he wanted to maintain his status as parent so he resisted his former wife’s action to terminate his rights.   Michigan law does allow for revocation of paternity (which is to say, rebuttal of the presumption).  But to gain revocation Tracy Parks had to show :

The presumed father, the alleged father, and the child’s mother at some time mutually and openly acknowledged a biological relationship between the alleged father and the child

But Tracy Parks couldn’t show that David Parks had openly acknowledged the biological relationship between Achinger and the child, even though she could show that Parks knew about it.   Of course David Parks could have openly acknowledged the relationship had he chosen to do so.  But if he didn’t choose to do so, then nothing Tracy and/or David Achinger could do could force him to.   Essentially he could choose to be the child’s legal father or not, as he wished.   Again, I think you could say that the presumption gave him power to choose.

I don’t mean to suggest that he could change his mind on this point, by the way, flipping from being the father to not being the father.   There are other doctrines–things like estoppel–that would prevent him from doing that.  And of course, he might not know about the law and so he (or some other man in another case) might openly acknowledge the genetic realities without realizing the legal consequences.    Additionally, I make no claim that the MI legal structure is a common one–I just don’t know.

But it seems to me the case is interesting in that it shows just how the presumption can operate and the extent to which it can now serve to empower a husband at least in some instances.

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72 responses to “One Recent Example of the Marital Presumption In Action

  1. There is an additional attitude operating I think, which i picked up when reading comments on message boards. Adultery is still considered shameful by society and the kid’s father- the adulterer- is looked down on. We expect him to be hanging his head in shame, not jumping up to declare paternity. The attitude is, if you sleep with a married woman you darn well can’t expect a prize for it (the kid).
    The cuckolded husband, however evokes sympathy. We want him to be able to claim the kid if he wants, or reject it if he so chooses. We don’t want to punish him any further than he’s already been punished.
    (in which case many would demand that the adulterer pay child support).
    i’m not saying this attitude is right, but just that it factors in somewhere.

    • But children are not prizes and contact with them is not a cookie you get for being a good boy. If you have offspring you can expect to be held accountable for them Nothing bad can come of holding men accountable for the care and support of their own offspring. It’s always going to be beneficial to their children to have the right of support and care by their bio fathers. The money is still green whether the parents are married to eachother or to other people and the fact that they are not married does not reduce his fatherhood at all. The fact that some other man happens to be married to their mother does not mean the other man should hijack them into his family like property. He’ll be in his life as a step father, hel’ll have financial obligations and care giving responsibilities because they live in the same house but hie is not and should not pretend to be the child’s father. It’s not about getting a prize, it’s his responsibility hae created a child a person a life. My God you guys are just so shallow and country clubish.

      • It’s true that children are not prizes, but remember that in my book Achinger doesn’t have any particularly strong claim to legal parenthood here. You’d award that status to him by virtue of genetics. I would not. I know you think that because they are his genetic offspring he has some obligation/entitlement, but this is the key point we always disagree about.

        You could also look at this as being less about awarding the children as a prize and more about allowing the wounded husband the ability to remake his life in whatever way he thinks best. If he wants to raise the children as a part of his life he can do that, but he doesn’t have to. He gets to decide–and you could see this as some sort of attempt to remedy the harm that was done to him by the adulterer.

        Like Ki sarita I don’t mean to say this is particularly a good thing–but it is way to understand the structured choices the law offers.

      • agree that the question of parental status should be separate from whose to blame. just pointing out that this attitude exists in society.

    • No we should not punish him at all. We should not punish the poor cheated on husband so hold the father accountable and don’t force her husband to take on the kid permanently as father. If he chooses to stay let it be as a step father. And for Gd sake don’t give the husband a consolation prize like here you get to keep the guys kid and pretend that his kid is your kid because we feel so bad for you. We feel so bad for you that we will turn that guys child into property and we will let you do whatever you want with him be his legal father if you want don’t if you don’t feel like it. The child his child will pay for his discressions by loosing his identity and half his family. Yes that is a great idea Ki and as long as it does not happen to most people and those it does happen to are straight and make it look like nothing happened its far better to let the father off the hook treat his child as property with no family no identity of his own and we’ll just sacrifice that person’s human dignity so that everything looks all Upstate and top drawer Ivy league for everyone there in Stepford.

      • You know, the kids here could have contact with the genetic father if that’s what their legal parents decide is best for them. It’s not like his identity is unknown. In fact, I wondered if he was still involved with the wife.

        I don’t think it makes much sense to label the husband a step-father. But I suspect you and I have different operational definitions of what it means to be a step father. I think I’d say it is someone who enters the role of parent a later time in the child’s life and enters via the relationship with the parent. The husband doesn’t fit that because he served as the child’s parent from the time the child was born. I think you might use step-father because you see the genetic father as the father and so see the husband as a latecomer. Again, it goes back to our core disagreement about the appropriate status of the genetic father.

        • It’s just an awful situation. Regardless of outcome you have to wonder if the child will have any respect for David Parks as a parent in the long run. Personally I have little respect for the Archingers.

          • You know, we really don’t know much about the facts here. They are quite spare. For all we know David Parks really stepped up to parent this child and wants to continue that relationship for the best of reasons. Of course, this may not be the case, but the point is we just don’t know. Which I think makes it hard to judge.

            And perhaps there is a larger point to be made here. The law, as it is set up, operates without judgment. Maybe that is a good thing and maybe not. But the facts that would allow us to judge who is worthy of respect, etc. are irrelevant to the decision. The only thing that matters is marital status. That at least seems noteworthy.

            • “And he wanted to maintain his status as parent so he resisted his former wife’s action to terminate his rights. ”

              Or was that a bluff tactic to reduce his support payments and encourage her to marry the other guy?

              • Wait, I guess not, are rights and support the same thing? Could she terminate his rights but still get the support? Or was she also hoping to terminate his support? I keep going back to my old bandmate who found out he was a dad back in Minnesota, and bluffed his way out of having to pay child support by demanding visitation, which caused the woman to marry her new boyfriend instead, to get him out of the picture. Not sure who’s the “legal dad” in that situation or if he ever visits his kid now (wow, this was 20 years ago when I knew him, the kid is about 20 now!)

              • No idea. For all I know she had married the other guy. And clearly he could have gotten out of support payments just by going along with what she wanted to do, whether she had married him or not.

                It’s just as likely he actually cared about the child and wanted to maintain a relationship with him, it seems to me. We just don’t know.

                • I’d say it’s more likely he cared about his future and his money than the child. He’d care about the child about as much as any sperm donor cares about his 200 children. My friend with the surprise baby back in Minnesota sort of took it philosophically. He had a daughter out there, he had reproduced. None of the rest of us in the band had done that yet, so it was pretty heavy and we looked up to him a bit more. His songs took on added significance. But he was happy to be “Off The Hook” as one of his new songs put it. And he got that way thanks to a public defender he had who knew how to get him off the hook, which was by bluffing, by demanding shared custody.

            • “The law, as it is set up, operates without judgment. Maybe that is a good thing and maybe not.”

              I think it has to operate without judgment for the best interest of all parties involved. Short term pain is easier to work through than long term challenges.

              As much as it kills me to admit, I think if Mr. Archinger is indeed the genetic father that he should be granted legal parent status of the child. In the long run it’s cleaner and easier for the child and the Archingers. The short term pain David Parks would endure is easy to deal with than the long term challenges all three parties involved would face from split custody but that’s just me. I think you have to put the judgment of the Archingers despicable behavior to the side and look at the best interest of all parties involved.

    • I think you are quite right about this. As I recall in Michael H (the Supreme Court case I mentioned) Justice Scalia repeatedly refers to Michael–the child’s genetic father–as an “adulterous father”. I think it is, as you say, intended to remind us that he is a scoundrel and not entitled to any sympathy. He made his choice when he committed adultery. The injured husband, meanwhile, gets the power to make the best of the situation in whatever way he wants.

      This is quite a different picture from that which lay behind the original marital presumption. That really did work against the husband. So it is another way of looking at how the function of the presumption has changed, even as it remains remarkably intact.

      • How is it a different picture from the original marital presumption? Isn’t that what it was designed for? To keep the scoundrel out and let the husband decide whether to stay with his wife and her new kid, or divorce her and disown her child?

        • No–the old marital presumption didn’t give the husband the choices you recite. The child was essentially his child no matter what. He couldn’t disown. He couldn’t divorce. He couldn’t renounce. That was the whole point.

          • because there was no DNA testing so he couldn’t prove anything.

            • But adultery led to an automatic divorce pretty much, didn’t it? Jesus said it was the only way divorce was acceptable, because it had already happened. So the husband could prove it just by suspecting it and making his wife to or lover admit it, and maybe having a few witnesses who saw them in the same house together helped. I suspect it had to be pretty easy to prove well enough to convict, because otherwise adultery would have been impossible to prove at all and been pretty rampant, and I doubt they would have the marital presumption if that was the case.

              • The South Carolina state legislature had to approve divorce prior to the Civil War.

                Adultery in 19th-century Missouri had to be “pubic” and “notorious” to be a crime.

                It was a crime for husbands to fail to support wives and children. The state had little interest in allowing married men to divorce wives and children, who might require public support. Unmarried men were in a separate legal category.

                Marital coverture defined things, including parentage, in ways it is difficult for people of the 21st century to understand. People read back into history how they see the present world.

                • very interesting historical notes here tess.

                • Maybe what you mean is adultery had to be public and notorious for it to be public and notoriously punished as a crime. I seriously doubt people considered adultery legal to do as long as they did it in private and no one knew about it. I’d love to see some case transcripts where the defendants argued that it wasn’t public and notorious.

                  • The legal code required adultery to be “pubic” and “notorious.” There are court transcripts that discuss this. Yes, the transcripts are interesting and amusing.

                    It was not pubic and notorious for a spouse to walk in on the copulating couple meeting for a tryst in a boarding house. However, adultery was public and notorious if the spouse moves out of the marital household and was frequently seen in pubic.

                    Wives were restricted from testifying against their husbands after a few too many brought complaints before the J.P.

                    The past is a foreign country: They do things differently here.

                  • Anyway Tess, I think this indicates another aspect of the culture that has undergone tremendous change; from valuing secrecy to openness.

              • and regarding Jesus, no, Jesus isn’t in the legislature or the supreme court.

                nor was he ever part of any lawmaking body. so I rather think your are misinterpreting him. He meant in a moral sense, not legal one.

                But I’m really going out on a limb here since my area of knowledge is Judaism, not Christianity….

                • My point is that adultery never required DNA proof. I think in modern American law infidelity has always been grounds for divorce, long before there was such a thing as a paternity test. And as an aside, I’m pretty sure Jesus was advising his fellow Jews about Jewish law when he said divorce was only OK if there had been infidelity. And I recall a scene involving a crowd about to stone a woman to death, which I think was standard legal punishment for adultery, and Jesus’s radical opposition to capital punishment for adultery is pretty much the essence of Christianity.

                  • There is no such law listed in the Jewish texts of any period, on the contrary divorce in the Bible and Rabbinic texts was rather easy.
                    Jesus himself says that his teachings are of “righteousness exceeding the scribes and the pharisees.” (according to mathtew)

                  • The Puritan colonies allowed for adultery as a reason for divorce. And their definition of adultery was not our definition of adultery.

                    The Puritan colonies pointed to religious justification. However, that does not mean other colonies automatically allowed for civil divorce on that basis, and it wold be a mistake to assume this was so.

                    Separation of bed and board is a different legal status then divorce. When marriage was not viewed as a civil contract, it was much more difficult to achieve a legal divorce.

    • You raise a valid point. Perhaps the law is saying if you’re scoundrel enough to sleep with a married woman then perhaps that’s evidence enough to assume you’re too scoundrel to be a decent parent so the law gives first opportunity to the innocent and moral party – the husband. I can see some basis in that reasoning.

      • except that there is really no evidence to that effect in real life.

        • Instead of “scoundrel” maybe try the word “criminal,” and have a law against adultery like in my state, and then there is your evidence.

          • no john, thats not what evidence is. there is no evidence that they are unfit to care for children.

            may i also remind yall that unfitness is only an assessed AFTER a person is already recognized as parent. if their not a parent whether they are fit or not is irrelevant.

            • Nonsense, if people have a criminal past, they are often judged unfit to adopt a child or be declared a legal parent in a custody battle. It could be white collar crimes like extortion and election fraud, but that nevertheless show that the person has a disrespect for the law and civil society. Committing adultery could certainly be a disqualification.

              • evidence, john, evidence. the fact that sometimes judges factor these thing in, is not evidence of the parents fitness but of the judges.

              • John “Committing adultery could certainly be a disqualification.”

                Not anymore and thank God for that can you imagine if every person that cheated on their spouse just like, *poof * disappeared in the middle of taking care of their kid? The world would be awash with unkempt ragamuffins. Not just poor people’s kids either…the streets of the Hampton’s would be filled with toddlers scampering around with empty bottles and unchanged pants dodging carloads of stoned 12 year old joy riders. It would be utter madness if infidelity cost children the support of their parents.

                • I’m talking about custody disputes where a judge is deciding which parent should raise the child, they should take the moral rectitude of the parents into account. So I guess “disqualify” is too strong a word. Obviously they wouldn’t disqualify an adulterous parent if it meant putting the child in worse circumstances. You act like states don’t have family courts and child protection departments that routinely decide genetic parents are not the best parents for children. They shouldn’t change the birth certificates or erase the child’s lineage or relatives, but sometimes they should give kids new legal parents to be raise them and be legal heirs and family of.

            • Well people are parents of their own offspring whether or not they are ever formally recognized as such and whether or not they even know they have children cause you are what you are. Do you mean unfitness as a parent requires others knowing that you are one and holding you accountable as one? Cause parents who simply never show up ever at all have their rights terminated in absentia on the grounds they neglected/abandoned their child (which I disagree with) and then they move forward allowing someone else to adopt the minor whose parents are absent. So I agree with you I was just clarifying that you meant more than just legal recognition.

              As an aside I have now known fathers who had their legal parental authority and obligations cut off and their kids adopted out to step fathers without ever knowing that they even had children if you can imagine that. Their girlfriends just never told them they were pregnant and they found other guys to hook up with and marry them. It’s just so really evil and calculating for a woman to think she’s president of everything, judge, jury, executioner that she could just pick a guy she likes better and make him be these people’s fathers. Some of these men were away at war getting shot at while some seemingly nice push over back home is thinking he’s doing something noble by having his name added to the birth record of his wife’s kid or by doing a step parent adoption. Sometimes they were just suckers that the women lied to who had no idea they were really raising their step children. Sometimes their girlfriends intentionally adopted out their kids and sometimes their girlfriend’s parents forced them to. I think there should be a law that there can be no adoption ever without the knowledge and consent of the parent unless they are found unfit. I don’t think making an attempt to locate the parents is good enough, not when the legal connection between parents and children is so totally severed as it is currently. Because you really just don’t know the circumstances of why the parents are absent. You don’t know if they even know they have children and you don’t know if the mother might be withholding information simply to have the adoption or step adoption be marshaled through uncontested. If adoptions and step adoptions were simply not allowed at all without signed consent or proof of death then it would not be possible for people to do step parent adoptions on sperm donor offspring for instance because proof of consent to adoption for each specific minor is not achievable

      • I must say I’ve been surprised to learn how old fashioned and conservative some of the most forward thinking and progressive individuals on my left side can be. They have much in common philosophically with their equally marriage minded opponents. Like really really old fashioned almost brimstone old fashioned sheesh

        • Like having to fight really hard for the right to marry kind of turned people into marriage minded stepford zombies. Marriage is for raising children my spouse is the other parent of my child infidelity should cost a person his child or if you wanted to see your kid you should have married the mother. E freaking Gad.

  2. “If he chooses to stay let it be as a step father. ”

    Yeah, because he is less of a dad because he lacks a genetic connection to the child. Boy Marilynn you are a cruel person especially given what your experience has been with infidelity, I am shocked with how far you will go in the biology trumps all crusade.

    • Let’s say that my husband were to have gotten some woman pregnant and let’s say she decided to keep and raise their child – if I decided to stay with him anyway despite the fact that he was having a baby with another woman that would be my choice to live with. I would not have any expectation that I would be anything other than a step mother to the child of another woman. Not because I thinks she deserves to be named mother of her child but because her child deserves to be recognized as the child of their own mom.. I would never expect the child to pretend that their mother did not exist or that her relatives did not count or that my relatives and my relationship with them was somehow more important than their relationship with their mother that made them. I would not make them carry the burden of playing the roll of child of my marriage when that is not who they really are. If I stayed despite him having a child with another woman I would have the empathy not to make my choice to stay be contingent on their child pretending that their mother never existed, I would not make them call me mom – they could call me whatever they want but I for sure would not make them loose anything or anyone in order to keep up appearances. I am not more important than their relationship with their mother and they would not need to pretend to be my child when they were not. I would not want to put the child in a position where they felt they had to manage my emotions or their mothers. My choice to stay should be based on accepting everyone and the situation for what it really is not what I wish it were or what I think is better for society.

      • And what is better for society for you is for non bio parents to be looked down upon and not recognized as being legit parents. It’s too bad this didn’t happen before your daughter was born because I think it would have humbled you on the non bio parent topic.

        • It’s all about you. It’s true it’s all about you and what you get out of the child rearing process. What are you going to get for your investment? How well will you be treated? What doors will open for you what respect will you garner in the community. Don’t go at this assuming that raising a child is a selfless effort that is for the kid – no keep going at this wanting the crown and the ceptor and the t-shirt and the secret Dad handshake and executive washroom key.

        • It’s about the millions of non bio parents out there that get crapped on by people like yourself.

        • Greg you are acting like its necessary to break families up just so people in your position can feel better about themselves.

      • If the woman were pregnant she and her husband might be able to block your husband from claiming any connection to the child–that’s the marital presumption at work. (I know that’s not what you asked.)

        You might be the step-mother in this situation–you’re right. But I think that’s because there is another woman in another famly unit who can claim legal parentage first. I think it’s about order. It’s an extra layer of parents–after the original ones.

        Now yes, this all does depend on who you call a parent in the first place and so you can say it is circular. But that’s really my point. I don’t choose to call the woman who is married to the woman who gives birth a step-mother–she’s part of the original family unit.

        If your point is that different people use the terms in different ways, I’ll certainly agree, though. and I think that’s worth discussing. Perhaps we can agree that being a step-parent is a somewhat lesser standard than being a parent? That’s why it matters who you call what.

        • “Perhaps we can agree that being a step-parent is a somewhat lesser standard than being a parent? That’s why it matters who you call what.”

          I agree. But that doesn’t mean a step parent can’t assume a more parent like role and mean the world to a child.

          • legally its certainly a lesser role because a step parent is not a legally recognized relationship at all.

            • And that’s why when it’s said that someone is a step parent it’s a way to demean them. Not you but others do.

              • is it the law thats demeaning or the word?

                • I don’t think it’s something a biological parent could ever understand.

                  • Greg are you offended by the idea that the law has to have terms to describe who one person is in relation to another in order to establish what their obligations should or should not be and whether one person has a right to rely upon another to do or not do something? Step parents are not actually assuming the parental responsibilities for the absent parent they are added man-power to fulfillment of their spouse’s parental responsibilities. Take a separated mother and father for example, the mother’s new husband is not filling in for the absent father he’s amplifying the support the mother can provide by joining her and helping her do what she has to do for her kid. The law will obligate him financially to help with his wife’s support obligation, not take over the father’s. The father still has his support obligation whether he pays it or not his child still deserves it. It’s sort of like step parents make each parent bigger, they are sitting on the bride’s side of the church, they are working for the maternal team while the father and his new partner are working for the paternal team. There is no benefit to removing either of the parents or in severing the kinship of the child to the parent. Even if they are totally unknown the possibility of them showing up is worth leaving it all intact because their step parent is legally obligated to contribute to raising them as a member of the mother’s team. They have all the legal insurance and death and military benefits of a parent without the ever long unbreakable responsibility. It’s appropriate to have a category that people can get out of when they divorce because their connection came via their marriage. Parents should be able to end the connection of their ex’s to their kids if they divorce if they want and an ex should have the freedom not to support his ex’s children when they already have 2 parents supposed to be doing their job.

                    Its not a put down its a special category of relationship that gives people the obligations and authority and choices they need given the origin of their relationship to the minor in question. Why does that offend you so much? Should we not have a word to describe them separately? Would it be better if they had identical obligations? Do you see any potential problems with concealing the nature of people and their relationships to one another/

                  • Perhaps we need to sterilize everyone for you to be happy?

                  • would you Greg say its a bad idea to obligate biological parents to care for their offspring? Would you be partial to the idea of eliminating minor’s rights to support and contact with their biological parents and family members?

                    If eliminationg that right works so well for all the people who have absent parents, like adopted people or black market adopted people then lets just make it a rule nobody gets to raise their own ofspring. Not just that they don’t have to…they don’t get to

                  • “Greg are you offended by the idea that the law has to have terms to describe who one person is in relation to another in order to establish what their obligations should or should not be and whether one person has a right to rely upon another to do or not do something?”

                    I am offended by your constant implication that non biological parents are lesser than biological parents. Being a parent has more to do with the bond the child has with them and what they mean to the child than it does who conceived them or a piece of paper or even a legality. In the big picture non sense kinship rights mean little to a person. But keep harping on it and putting non biological parents down.

                  • “Perhaps we need to sterilize everyone for you to be happy?”

                    No, not at all. I just think that certain people live in their own little perfect world forgetting where they came from not recognizing what others go through.

              • Can you explain why you think it is demeaning because I just view it based on the actual legal definition and the actual benefits an responsibilities. I don’t have any feelings about people who are step parents any more than I have feelings about people who are brothers or who are grandparents or in laws or aunts or uncles. It’s just the word to describe someone who is not the bio or adoptive parent of their spouse,

                • “Can you explain why you think it is demeaning”

                  It’s the context in which you use it in with regards to sperm donation and cases of infidelity. You propel that biological parent to a higher status because of that blood and put down that non biological parent. You obviously have some sort of negative feelings towards them otherwise you wouldn’t harp on it as much as you do.

          • Hey Greg absolutely correct. In fact many do. They often grow very close simply because of proximity. They are step parents but that only describes who they are in relationship to the child legally and their obligations to the child arise through their marriage rather than by having created the obligation by creating the person. They have the option of ending their obligation when they end their marriage where a parent has no such luxury their obligation did not come through their marriage and they did not need their spouse’s consent to have their obligation to their child. The minor deserves never to have that permanent obligation from their parent severed when they can simply have the added relationship with their step parent as well. It’s not that they are lesser, its two different categories, one with a permanent obligation the other with an obligation that came from getting married. You make it seem so sinister. For the child there are benefits to each and if you can add one without getting rid of the other then why on earth would we want the child to suffer the loss of their rights to their parent just to what they would get from their step parent anyway. They should get what they deserve from the parent that made them first and foremost. If someone else wants to contribute to their upbringing through marriage to one of their parents that is their choice and it should have zero impact on the minors relationship to either parent.

            • “It’s not that they are lesser, its two different categories, one with a permanent obligation the other with an obligation that came from getting married. You make it seem so sinister. ”

              It’s that they are lesser in your mind. You can say that get aren’t but everything else in your writing says otherwise. I think you believe that as a biological parent you are superior and look down upon those who are non biological parents. Despite your continued attempts to break up non biological families the reality is that some of those bonds will never be broken. And that’s a good thing because the belief that you have that families only have obligations and bonds because of blood is a very shallow way of thinking.

              • OK so you have no problem with other people using the term step parent to describe a person who is married to a person that has kids with someone else? It’s just me personally that you think has a bad meaning behind it. Well that at least means you just have a problem with me and not with reality. Your not actually carrying this chip around on your shoulder out there in the real world with others you just don’t like me and no matter how many times I say I don’t think the way you say I do you’ll continue to project your own self hate outwardly on me. I’m used to it from you by now. You don’t support much of what you say with actual laws or science you just say what you feel and that is the full platform to support your statement with a little personal experience an annecdotal evidence but the mistreatment and banishing and condemning and second class citizen stuff is not something that you are pointing out written into law. It’s not something you can seek to liberate yourself from legally since their are no laws mandating or even allowing all those things that you are suffering from.

                So this all boils down to you not liking me and thinking that I have some hiden agenda against people who are raising other people’s offspring. Your totally fine with the title of step or adoptive parent, you have no problem yourself with differentiating them in language and in law from parents of the biological type and you have no problem with the circumstances which give rise to each of those parenthood brands and you know that deep emotional bonds are not a promise of biological parenthood or any type of parenthood that a kid could be more fond of a step father and you have no issue yourself with thinking the term step is demeaning you understand its just a factual term. I’m glad its only me you act this way with really. I’ll maintain I don’t think the things you’ve said I’m much too logical for that. You are entirely emotional. If you took the Myers Briggs test it would be like extrovert, sensing, feeling. That’s great it takes all kinds I’m very black and white matter of fact it is what it is there is not much emotion behind titles for me I think of them like separating things down breaking them up into categories that make sense obligate and entitle appropriately. I’m fair but you don’t see that.

                • “OK so you have no problem with other people using the term step parent to describe a person who is married to a person that has kids with someone else? ”

                  I have no problem if the term is used to describe someone whose spouse was previously married who had a child with that ex spouse. But when it’s used in donor conception at the intended parent from birth, it’s used in a way to demean that non biological parent.

                  Again it goes back to your approach. Just as the term adoptive parent isn’t offensive but when you used it in a way that puts adoptive parents against the “parents” of the child it implies that the latter are the real parents and the former are lesser parents.

    • No because that is what he actually is. A person is a parent to their own offspring and is a step parent to their spouses offspring. It’s not exactly a novel idea Greg why would anyone have an expectation of being parent to someone else’s chld unless they went through the adoption process.

      • No, it’s because you look down upon non biological parents. It goes back to your feeling that they aren’t “real” parents. Pretty shallow if you ask me.

      • You would like a person to be a legal parent to their offspring, I know. But that isn’t always the case as the law works now. And the spouse of a legal parent may very well also be a legal parent of a child who is not that person’s offspring. Maybe we could distinguish between how you want to use language and what the law does?

  3. Just noting that you in this post have identified a case where the mother lost her power to be the arbiter and I did not think that was common thank you for digging it up

    • Indeed she did. I thought perhaps Kisirita’s observations about who was wronged might have something to do with this. The mother here is not an angel.

      • Your an ace in the education of the common simpleton your doing your community service in my book I’ll vouch for you. 😉 I’ve learned so much disturbing information from you. But I understand much of what I set out to understand. I am quite grateful for the digging and posting you do, yes to prove me wrong it’s true but this all happens before I open my mouth in public.

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