In 2010, Mother (M) was married to Father (F) when she conceived and subsequently
gave birth to J. (a son, named after Father). However, during that time,
M had an affair with D, and J’s biological father is actually D.
When D saw M with J a year after his birth, D noticed J’s similarities
to himself. The DNA of both D and J were tested, and the results proved
that D is, in fact, J’s biological father. D petitioned the court
to recognize his presumed father status, but later withdrew his request.
Because F was married to M at the time of J’s birth, and for the
next two years, F held himself out to be J’s father, under Family
Code, F is the conclusively considered by law to be J’s presumed
father. And, although, D continued to see J on occasions, F and M continued
to raise J as their son.
In 2013, the California Legislature enacted Family Code section 7612, to
allow courts to recognize that a child has more than two parents in certain
"In an appropriate action, a court may find that more than two persons
with a claim to parentage under this division are parents if the court
finds that recognizing only two parents would be detrimental to the child.
In determining detriment to the child, the court shall consider all relevant
factors, including, but not limited to, the harm of removing the child
from a stable placement with a parent who has fulfilled the child's
physical needs and the child's psychological needs for care and affection,
and who has assumed that role for a substantial period of time. A finding
of detriment to the child does not require a finding of unfitness of any
of the parents or persons with a claim to parentage."
Under this new legislation, D went back into court and petitioned the court
recognize his parental status of J. The court found that D met the requirements
under the new law, and recognized his parental rights to J. M and F appealed.
The Appellate Court overturned the juvenile court stating: “[T]his
is not ‘an appropriate action’ to recognize three parents
under section 7612. Because the juvenile court determined [J] did not
have an existing relationship with [D. and] there is no substantial evidence
to support a finding that recognizing only two parents would be detrimental
The Appellate Court specifically stated that “[J was] not the poster
boy for [this new legislation]. [T]he Legislature intended amendments
to section 7612 to be narrow in scope and to apply only in ‘rare
cases’ in which a child ‘truly has more than two parents’
who are parents ‘in every way.’… In those rare cases,
the Legislature sought to protect the child from the ‘devastating
psychological and emotional impact that would result from ‘[s]eparating
[the] child from a parent.’”
Clearly, this was not that case. Although, D occasionally interacted with
J, D never acted in the role of J’s parent.