Family Law

Family Law News Issue 1, 2014, Volume 36, No. 1

SB 274: The Law and Multi-Parent Families

Deborah H. Wald

Deborah H. Wald is a family law attorney in San Francisco, CA, with over 15 years experience representing contemporary families and children. For more information please visit or send an email to

On October 4, 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill No. 274 into law. This bill means that, effective January 1, 2014, California’s family and dependency courts have the discretion to find the children coming before them to have more than two legal parents when necessary to protect the child from detriment. As stated in the bill itself, the purpose of Senate Bill No. 274 is "to abrogate", In re M.C., 195 Cal. App. 4th 197 (2011) insofar as it held that where there are more than two people who have a claim to parentage under the Uniform Parentage Act, courts are prohibited from recognizing more than two of these people as the parents of a child, regardless of the circumstances."

In re M.C. was a sad and messy case involving a woman, her wife/domestic partner, and a man with whom she had an affair. The woman (Melissa) and her wife (Irene) were involved in a stormy on-again-off-again relationship. During an off-again period, Melissa became involved with Jesus, and got pregnant. Melissa lived with Jesus and his family for a few months of the pregnancy, during which time he supported and cared for her. However, prior to the baby’s birth Melissa returned to Irene, and the baby was born into their marital home.

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