Family Law Reform Blog
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
  De Facto Parenthood
De Facto Parenthood: The reformers' latest unwholesome innovation in family law.
by Sara Butler Nardo
Weekly Standard 03/06/2006, Volume 011, Issue 24

Mike Thompson of the Texas ADR chapter sent us this article by our friend Sara Butler Nardo of the Instititute for American Values.

This excerpt shows the frighteningly loose legal standard for declaring someone a "de facto parent". --

"The Washington court, following Wisconsin's model,
established a four-part test to be used by judges in determining whether a
person has standing as a de facto parent:
(1) the natural or legal parent consented to and fostered the parent-like
relationship; (2) the petitioner and the child lived together in the same
household; (3) the petitioner assumed obligations of parenthood without
expectation of financial compensation; and (4) the petitioner has been in
a parental role for a length of time sufficient to have established with
the child a bonded, dependent relationship parental in nature.

"Rather than answering a simple question--Does the adult have a biological
or adoptive relationship to the child in question?--judges will award
parenthood depending on whether the relationship appears sufficiently
"parent-like," a notable expansion of state power in the realm of family

"The courts have justified the creation of de facto parenthood by arguing
it serves the best interests of children. In reality, however, it works at
cross-purposes to the institution that most essentially serves children's
interests--marriage. ... In reality, de facto parenthood serves adults more than children ... .

"This new circular definition of parenthood--a parent is a person who
performs the function of a parent--is part of a larger trend in family law
that sees the law as the creator of the family ... the words we use to
describe this most vital social institution--family, mother, father,
marriage--do not correspond to natural relationships, but are mere labels
that the state is free to apply as it sees fit.

"In the case of the label "marriage," the proposed change ... has been widely and loudly debated. The legal definition of "parent," meanwhile, is already quietly changing."

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