Tag Archives: number of parents

Parenthood By The Numbers

I’ve written in the past about questions arising out of the number of parents.  As this article discusses, there’s a bill pending in the CA legislature that addresses this question and I’ve been meaning to flag it here for a while.

For those wedded to a genetic model of parenthood (by which I mean a model where genetics determines legal parental status) this must seem a bizarre discussion indeed.    It’s perfectly clear that every child has two and only two genetic parents.  (The prospect of manipulation of mitochondrial DNA does open the possibility of three parents, I suppose, but I’ll set that aside for now.)

But if one considers social parentage, there’s nothing so obvious about the number two.  There are clearly many children who have one and only one parent and, to my mind just as clearly, there are many children who have three parents.   Continue reading

Single Fathers/Single Mothers–Sameness and Difference

I’m sorry to have been so long away.  I’ve got very little internet access and not all that much time, either.   But things should improve.   Though this must get to sound like a broken record–I know there are comments but I cannot respond to them right now.  (In fact, I cannot even read them–but I know they are there.)  Patience?  Maybe everyone is off having a lazy time doing summer things?  One can hope.

So there’s a story I’ve been meaning to comment about for a while now and because it is the only thing I’ve got to look at here (no current events) this is the moment.   It’s off of NPR a couple of weeks back.   The idea here is just as there has been a significant movement of single mothers by choice, so there is an emerging movement of single fathers by choice.

It’s interesting to think about single fathers.  Continue reading

Creeping, Creeping: Update on Three-Parent IVF

A few days ago I wrote about the possibility that we are creeping towards some form of brave new world as various genetic testing options become more feasible.   I’ve an update for an earlier story that follows along with that post.

I’ve written several times about three-parent IVF.  The idea is that mitochondrial DNA from one woman is used in conjunction with the nuclear DNA of a second woman as well as sperm from a man.   This could be useful where the nuclear DNA provider carries flawed mitochondrial DNA, which could cause a variety of diseases.   Anyway, they’ve been studying the process in Britain, focussing on the question of whether it is ethical.

The answer, offered by Nuffield Council  on Bioethics, is that it is.    Continue reading

When A Step-Parent Can Be A De Facto Parent

Still playing catch up here, but this discussion sort of ties back to the one about Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell and holding out from the last few days.    There’s a recent Washington opinion  that looks at interesting questions about step-parents and de facto parents.

It’s important to know at the outset that WA has a strong de facto parent doctrine.   The doctrine was established in In Re LB, a case between lesbian co-parents.   While it isn’t easy to meet the standard for de facto parent, if you do meet it, then you get parental rights in WA.

It’s unremarkable that WA also has step-parents Continue reading

The Rise of the 3+ Parent Family

Here’s a long story from the Boston Globe about the increasing interest in the possibility of more-than-two-parent families.    As the article notes, there’s growing advocacy for legal recognition of more than two parents.    (This is something that’s been discussed occasionally here.)    In addition to what is discussed in the article, a legislative proposal to recognize more than two parents is being contemplated in British Columbia.  

I suspect that many people raise an eyebrow (to say the least) at the idea of three or more parents.   But if you think about it, many of us know kids who in fact (if not in law) have three parents.     Often the third adult is what we call a step-parent, but that label doesn’t tell you much about the nature and the quality of the relationship between that adult and the child.  

Obviously a step-parent/child relationship varies with specific circumstances, but equally obviously a step-parent can be as much (or more) of a parent as either or both of the original two parents.   Continue reading

Natural Parent v. Third Party–In North Dakota, You Win Some, You Lose Some

There’s a recent case from North Dakota that illustrates some important points about the power of recognition as a legal parent.   At the same time, it also represents a less-common approach to the rights of third-parties.   Please note that it does not directly raise the issues about defining natural parents that I’ve been talking about, so I hope I don’t confuse things by discussing it now.   

Some time in 2001 or 2002 Robin McAllister conceived a child with Michael Tharaldson.  While she was pregnant she moved out of Tharaldson’s home.  She met Mark McAllister and moved in with him.   The child, EM, was born in 2002.   Robin and Mark raised him together.  They married in 2004 and had two children together before Robin left Mark in 2008.   When she left she took EM with her but left the two younger children behind.   Robin and EM moved in with another man, Jason Prosje.  

Robin and Mark McAllister got divorced.   They agreed on most things.  Mark got primary custody of the two younger children.   The one outstanding issue was the custody/visitation regarding EM.   Mark wanted decision-making authority and primary residential responsiblity for EM.   Robin wanted him to have no court-ordained role in the child’s life.  Continue reading

What Makes DNA So Difficult?

After reading the NYT magazine article, writing about it a bit and then reading the comments to my posts and on the magazine site, I’m left with this question:   What makes DNA so difficult?   Surely it must have seemed that having reliable and relatively inexpensive DNA testing would make legal parentage questions easier.   Why hasn’t it worked out that way.

As one commenter on this blog pointed out, DNA does make determination of biological parentage easy—it’s a scientific test that yields a simple yes/no with a very high degree of reliability.   It guarantees that all children will have two parents (one male and one female.) 

But its very strength is also its weakness.  While DNA gives us a clear and clean answer, the lives of many children are not so clear and clean.   DNA is  inflexible and fail to account for the diversity of children’s lives.    Continue reading

Natural Rules

I want to pick up from yesterday’s post, which is part of a longer and more sporadic thread about the role of nature in shaping family law.    The general point is that while I am a big fan of nature generally–how can one not be, living in the Pacific Northwest?–I’m quite skeptical about invocations of nature as the source for modern family law.  

There are really two aspects to that skepticism.  First, I’m not sure we know what is naturalfor humans.   At the very least, I think it is clear that different people have different ideas about what is natural and how nature effects parenting. Thus, some will say that men are naturally non-monagamous, and that an optimal outcome for a male is to have someone else raise the children he is genetically related to.   But other people will say that parents who are genetically related to their children will be superior to all other parents.  Continue reading

Polyamory and the Number of Parents

Dedicated readers will notice that I’ve removed my “summer time” post.  Home again.   But all the attendant travel and such has really disrupted my posting.  Sorry about that.  I’m going to try to pick it up again starting now.

There was recently (last week maybe?)an article in Newsweek on polyamory.  Perhaps for the mainstream media, polypeople are the new lesbians and gay men–the new cutting-edge-of-the-family.   Anyway, in the past I’ve discussed the number of parents problem a couple of times.   Polyamorous families or clusters obviously present at least the potential for this problem.  

Typically the law prefers to find two and only two parents, and in the historical ideal, that would be one female (the mother) and one male (the father).   It’s pretty clear that in the social world, the two parent model, while common, is hardly the only configuration.    Continue reading

One Picture Instead of 1000 Words

Okay, so I never actually post 1000 words at a time.   One picture instead of 400-600 words would be more accurate.   And really, one picture and then a bunch of words, too.

Yesterday the Washington State Governor signed the new domestic partner bill.   Here’s a picture is from event.   You can also read about it, of course.

I’ll assume you have gone and looked at the picture.  What’s the most striking thing about it? Surely it’s all the kids.  If you didn’t know and I showed you that and said it was a bill signing, wouldn’t you think it was a children’s health care bill, or maybe something about elementary education?    Continue reading