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Fathers and Families

New California Law Protects Military Parents
California Seeks to Modernize Family Code
July 18, 2012
Top Story
New California Law Protects Military Parents Child Custody Rights
Paul Cook
Assemblyman Paul Cook
By Rita Fuerst Adams, National Executive Director, Fathers and Families

Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. signed into law AB 1807, protecting child custody rights for military parents.  Assemblyman Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley, introduced the legislation to protect our military parents.

Fathers and Families has lobbied and advocated for the rights of our military in child custody. This legislation is another success.

When a divorced couple shares custody of a child and one of the parents is deployed due to military orders, full custody of the child is given temporarily to the non-deployed parent. Often, when the deployed parent returns, a custody battle ensues.

Now, the parental rights of those deployed are protected. The original child custody agreement is reinstated post-deployment. Parent and child are reunited as soon as the parent returns home. This new legislation makes the process quick, efficient, and fair, without compromising the best interest of both the parent and the child.

Michael Robinson, policy consultant for Fathers and Families, stated, "It's a great day for military parents. Much appreciation to Cook for his dedication on not just one, but two bills helping military parents."

Cook explained, "This bill is all about the bond between parent and child and making sure our laws honor our values and that bond. The last thing military parents should be worrying about when deployed is a custody battle when they return home. This legislation will help end the courts' prejudice against military parents and right a terrible wrong that has plagued service members for too long. I'm very grateful for all the hard work Michael Robinson and Fathers and Families have done on this important subject."

The Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America-California State Council, and the Family Law Section of the State Bar support this law.

California Seeks to Modernize Family Code by Providing for More Than Two Parents
By Rita Fuerst Adams, National Executive Director, Fathers and Families
Mark Leno
Senator Mark Leno

SB 1476 modernizes California state law by giving courts the flexibility to protect children who have parent-child relationships with more than two people.

Senator Mark Leno introduced this bill, which has passed the Judiciary Committee and is awaiting vote in the full Assembly. It is sponsored by the Children’s Advocacy Institute and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

“We live in a world today where courts face the diverse circumstances that have reshaped California families,” said Senator Leno. “This legislation gives courts the flexibility to protect the best interests of a child who is being supported financially and emotionally by those parents. It is critical that judges have the ability to recognize the roles of all parents, especially when a family is in distress and a child’s security is a concern.”

SB 1476 allows a court to recognize parent-child relationships based on the evidence and the best interests of the child. It does not change existing law that sets the high standard for being a legal parent. It simply clarifies a judge’s ability to decide that when more than two parents satisfy the standard, the court is allowed to recognize them as the child’s legal parents.

Under Leno's bill, if three or more people who acted as parents could not agree on custody, visitation and child support, a judge could split those things up among them.

Under current law, a parent can be a man who signs a voluntary declaration of paternity; a man who was married and living with a child's mother; a man who took a baby into his home and represented the infant as his own.

Leno's bill, which has passed the Senate and is now in the Assembly, would apply equally to men or women, and to straight or gay couples. Examples of three-parent relationships that could be affected by SB 1476 include:

  • A family in which a man began dating a woman while she was pregnant, then raised that child with her for seven years. The youth also had a parental relationship with the biological father.
  • A same-gender couple, who asked a close male friend to help them conceive, then decided that all three would raise the child.
  • A divorce in which a woman and her second husband were the legal parents of a child, but the biological father maintained close ties as well.
Opponents counter that the issue is complex and that allowing multiple parents in one section of law inevitably raises questions that could spark litigation in other sections, such as: tax deductions, citizenship, probate, public assistance, school notifications and Social Security.
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Fathers and Families improves the lives of children and strengthens society by protecting the child’s right to the love and care of both parents after separation or divorce. We seek better lives for children through family court reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers.

Fathers and Families’ vision is a society in which:
  • Children are happier and more successful because their loving bonds are protected after parental separation or divorce:

  • Children have a natural right to be nurtured and guided by both parents:

  • Society treats fathers and mothers as equally important to the wellbeing of their children:

  • Shared parenting after separation or divorce is the norm:

  • The courts arrange finances after separation or divorce so that both mothers and fathers can afford to house and care for their children and themselves: and

  • Our society understands and respects the essential role of fathers.

Core Principles
Our core principles are:
  • Shared Parenting: Shared parenting protects children’s best interests and the loving bonds children share with both parents after separation or divorce.

  • Parental Equality: Equality between genders has been extended to every corner of American society, with one huge exception: family courts and the related agencies.

  • Respect for Human and Property Rights: The Supreme Court of the United States has found that “the interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children... is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court.”

Fathers and Families
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