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May a California Mother Claim to be the Only Parent?


Instead of “Who’s Your Daddy”, the question in a recent San Diego Family Law case was “Do You Have a Daddy”?  Yes, at least in this case decided by the California Court of Appeal based in San Diego.

In a published decision (meaning a decision that may be cited for precedent), the three justices ruled that where a child was born through artificial insemination, a man (other than the sperm donor) may claim that he is the father based on Family Code section 7611, subd. (d).  That provision allows a person to establish that he or she is the natural parent if “he or she received the child into his or her home and openly held the child out as his or her own”.

Despite this statute, the mother in the case of R.M. vs. T.A., argued that he chose to be a single parent of the child and argued that in her case section 7611 violated her constitutional rights.  The trial judge, the Hon. Joel Wohlfeil, disagreed with her, and so did the Court of Appeal in a 31 page decision.

Writing for the other two justices, Justice Judith Haller noted the man’s “multiple trips to San Diego to help Mother during her pregnancy, and the fact that he was present during [the] child’s birth, expressed concern for her well-being, stayed every night at the hospital to be near Mother, and paid pregnancy and birth expenses ‘commensurate with his ability to do so'”.  In addition, the “‘record was replete with evidence’ that, for as long as Mother permitted him to do so, [the man] cared for 

Addressing the mother’s argument that section 7611 was forcing her to accept a two parent family, the appeals court noted that “the two parent policy does not seek to impose a two parent choice to the detriment of a single parent choice, but rather seeks to further a two parent familial arrangement that has already been developed in the parenting of the child”.  In another portion of the opinion, the court stated “[a] person claiming presumed parent status under section 7611(d) will not prevail if he or she demonstrates only a caretaking role and/or romantic involvement with a child’s parent.  By its terms, the statute requires an assumption of responsibility for the child that rises to the level of receiving the child into the home, and a commitment to the child demonstrated by an open acknowledgment of the child as his or her own”.

The post May a California Mother Claim to be the Only Parent? appeared first on Andy Cook Law.

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