California Seeks to Update Family Law

California Seeks to Update Family Law

With nontraditional family units becoming more and more common, California lawmakers are seeking to make changes to family law and parental rights to reflect the evolution of the modern family.

Two key disputes taking place in California have provided the inspiration behind this update to current law: Actor Jason Patric is seeking custody of a child he fathered through sperm donation which sheds light on the restrictions of the rights of sperm donors, and the legal fight between the children and wife of radio personality Casey Kasem over visitation rights.

The Modern Family Act

With the legalization of gay marriage in California that took place in June 2013, updates to the law are necessary. Recent updates to family law have removed the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman and changed references to gender to read "spouse" instead.

The Modern Family Act proposed by San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano aims to adjust the speed at which non-biological parents can obtain adoptions. For example, if a same sex couple has a biological child using one spouse, the other spouse's adoption claim for that child would be expedited. Current challenges to these adoptions involve a court hearing and state investigation before approval.

A key aspect of this bill is clarification of the financial and legal responsibilities of sperm donors and surrogate mothers. A form is provided that can help outline what rights and responsibilities, if any, a sperm donor should have in their child's life.

Proposed Bill AB2034

This bill was inspired by the recent conflict between Casey Kasem's children and his wife. Considering the high rates of divorce and remarriage in this country, a provision for children and stepparents that do not get along has been proposed.

Introduced by Los Angeles Assemblyman Mike Gatto, this bill would allow adult children to petition a judge over visitation rights for an abused or dependent parent, regardless of new spouse objections.

Both bills have consequences for the modern family in California. As these move forward in legislation, Cutter & Lax is here to answer any questions about what these proposals may mean for your family.