Paternity actions can take a number of forms. In some cases, a man may cohabit with the mother of a young child and seek to prove that he has parental rights not based on a biological relationship with the child but because of the bond he formed while raising the child.
California courts recognize that a biological connection is not necessary for a parent to form a connection with a child. To require a biological relationship would leave children without a second parent contrary to the public policy in favor of children having two parents.
Though the rules applied to decide if a man can be considered a father refer specifically to rights of a father, they have been extended and apply in same-sex relationships where a second mother wishes to show that she is the child’s parent. This is because otherwise the child would be left with only one parent.
In the recent California case of LM v. MG, a lesbian couple was living together and raising children but were not registered domestic partners. Both had brought in a child from a prior relationship. They decided to bring a third child into the relationship and MG found a pregnant woman who was interested in giving up her child for adoption.
After the child was born, MG adopted the child in a single-parent adoption. LM did not officially adopt the child but raised the child as her own as part of the family she had with MG while they were living in the same household. After the relationship broke up and LM saw that she might lose her chance to stay involved in the child’s life, LM went to court to request that she have a say in the decision of how the child was to be raised and that she be recognized as a parent of the child.
MG tried to prevent LM from proving she was a parent of the child by arguing that a single-parent adoption should prevent the court from recognizing a second parent’s rights to raise the child. The trial court disagreed and applied the rules for establishing parental rights. Because LM had received the child into her home and openly held the child out as her natural child, the trial court ruled that LM had showed sufficient evidence to establish a parental relationship.
The Court of Appeal agreed with the trial court and stated that a single-parent adoption does not prevent another parent from establishing a relationship with the adopted child.
If you need help proving your rights as a parent, you should contact an attorney to determine the proper course of action. Though your situation may be similar to the one described above, each case is different and your case may not turn out the same.
Contact an attorney who can guide you through the process to make things easier for you. Attorney Paul D. McGuire at the Law Office of Paul D. McGuire can help you fight for your rights. Call (858) 242-5667 today to schedule a free consultation.