SAN DIEGO - The California State Assembly passed a bill that would allow judges to recognize more than two parents during a custody hearing if it's in the best interest of the child's welfare.
"It’s better for the kids to have an option… to have another person whose stable enough to raise them to be there for them," Children’s Advocacy Institute attorney Melanie Delgado said.
The way the law reads right now, a judge’s hands are essentially tied, even if it means a child is placed in a bad situation when a better option is present.
"You want to be able to adjust to the best interest of the child and give the court the opportunity to do so," University of San Diego law professor Robert Fellmeth said. "You don’t want to have a harsh rule that prohibits something when there is an occasion that you want to make an exception."
The bill was inspired by a case in San Diego. A young girl was placed in the foster care system because her biological father could not be ruled a third parent even though her two legal parents were unable to care for her.
"The court was unable to give the biological dad a shot even though he wanted to be a father and was perhaps the best placement," Fellmeth said.
Opponents fear the bill will erode traditional parental roles of two parents and will change current standards for legal guardianship.
The law must now be signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.