Recently in Family Law Category

March 6, 2014

California Courts and Legislature Address Abduction of Child by Custodial Parent or Guardian

911-776459-m.jpgIn most child custody disputes, parents are trying to determine the most suitable parenting plan for their family. Issues such as physical and legal custody are the most common matters to be resolved. In some cases, one parent may be dissatisfied with the ultimate arrangement approved by the court. And unfortunately, parents who are wholly unhappy with their share of parenting responsibilities have on occasion resorted to drastic measures, such as abducting their children in contravention of the custody order. In order to prepare an arrangement that is in the best interests of your children, it is critical that you contact a local San Diego family law attorney as early in the proceedings as possible.

The child abduction statistics in this country are staggering. According to the US Department of Justice, 800,000 children are reported missing every year in the United States, while an estimated 200,000 are taken or abducted by a family member. One of the most helpful tools in finding abducted children within a quick time frame has been the "Amber Alert" system. Despite the effectiveness of the system, there was a question as to its applicability to abduction by a child's parent or guardian. To address this ambiguity, the California legislature drafted a bill to amend the state Amber Alert law. The law now authorizes activation of the Emergency Alert System even if the abductor is the child's custodial parent or guardian where the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily injury or death.

In a recent court of appeals case, a mother who took her children in contravention of the current custody order was found guilty of two counts of child abduction in violation of the California state penal code. Here, the parties had twins in 1999 and divorced in 2007. At the time of the divorce, the original settlement agreement afforded the parents a right of first option to care for the children while the other parent was away dealing with an emergency. Many years and multiple custody orders later, the court awarded the dad primary physical custody of the twins in 2008.

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November 14, 2013

Getting Married and Avoiding Divorce Can Be Good for The Economy and Your Health

valentines-series-ii-6-1414426-m.jpgIn two separate but equally intriguing studies, getting and staying married has been proven to be good for your health and beneficial for the economy. This may come as no real surprise. Getting married is usually a joyous occasion; when couples embark on a new life together, they are usually filled with hope and optimism for the future. At this point in their lives, couples are not usually anticipating the possibility of divorce and any attending negative ramifications (unless they decide to prepare a prenuptial agreement).

Divorce can impact many aspects of a person's life, including one's financial situation, living arrangements, relationships with other family members, including in-laws, and of course, if children are involved, the extent to which they may spend time with them. And now it seems, divorce may be bad for your health. At the end of a marriage, many of the issues that arise are complicated and require strict attention to detail and knowledge of the local court process. If you are considering divorce, it is important that you reach out to an experienced San Diego family law attorney as early in the proceedings as possible.

According to a recent Gallup Poll, married people spend more money than single folks, suggesting that if more people got married, then the economy would likely improve. The poll was conducted by telephone interviews with more than 135,000 Americans aged 18 and older. Of those polled, Americans who are married reported spending $102 on average each day. That number decreased to $98 for couples in domestic partnerships, $74 for people who are divorced, $67 for single -- and never married people, and $62 for widowers and widows. A research scientist who has examined wealth in relation to marital status essentially confirmed these results by suggesting that married couples had about four times the wealth of those who had never been married.

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August 8, 2013

Bill Pending in California Would Grant Sperm Donor Child Custody Rights Under Certain Circumstances

667713_-paper_family-.jpgFamilies come in all shapes and sizes. Thanks to technological advances and breakthroughs in medical science, families can now emanate from non-traditional methods. For whatever the reason, people may choose to become parents through alternative means, such as artificial insemination, in-vitro fertilization and adoption, among others. But with each procedure comes a whole host of legal and practical concerns to weigh and consider, including who is entitled to custody rights should a dispute arise. A local San Diego family law attorney can help parents anticipate and resolve any legal issues concerning child custody matters, with a focus on obtaining the best possible arrangement for you.

In widely publicized reports, the actor Jason Patric's custody dispute with former girlfriend, Danielle Schreiber, has inspired sperm-donor rights legislation in California. In 2009, Patric donated sperm as part of a fertility treatment that resulted in Schreiber becoming pregnant. He wants to help raise the child (who is now three years-old), but has encountered legal obstacles in attempting to gain partial custody.

State Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) introduced a bill that would allow courts to grant parental rights to sperm donors under such circumstances where the biological father has shown that he always intended to parent, did, in fact, parent - with the mother's consent - and never waived his parental rights. A Los Angeles Times article indicates that Patric and Schreiber disagree on the nature of their relationship and the extent to which Patric was involved in the child's life.

Critics of the legislation reportedly are concerned that the bill could "open the door to litigation by sperm donors" and lead to "male dominance." But others suggest that opponents of the bill do not fully understand the legislation, and in fact, may be doing a disservice to women and children. Many believe that the bill has been narrowly drafted, in that it only protects the relationship between a father and child when the father has assumed that role, acted as his child's father, and helped raise and care for him or her, with the mother's previous consent.

An overwhelming number of babies are born to unmarried mothers: statistics compiled by the Children's Defense Fund indicate that a baby is born to an unmarried mother every 19 seconds in the United States. Of course not all of these mothers conceived their babies via the help of a sperm donor, but for those that have, the legislation seeks to protect a child's ability to maintain a relationship with his or her father, if the child was conceived by artificial reproductive technology to unmarried parents.

Child custody cases are of supreme importance to the parents and children involved, as the outcome will likely impact the rest of their lives. Disputes over physical and legal custody have the potential to escalate, as both parents typically want to remain fully involved in their children's lives. In order to ensure that your rights and interests are protected to the greatest extent possible, it is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney as soon as a child custody matter arises.

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June 27, 2013

"Putative Spouse's" State of Mind As To Validity of the Marriage Is Applicable Under California Statute

1164097_couple_in_love_3.jpgWhile not a common occurrence, people do get married with the false impression that the marriage is valid and recognizable under state law. This can occur when one of the parties has been married before and did not officially and legally dissolve the union. As one can imagine, such a situation can present all sorts of problems down the road. Divorcing spouses in San Diego are encouraged to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can handle the process with confidence and ease.

One huge problem that can occur with a marriage that is void from the very start is when the surviving spouse seeks damages in a wrongful death lawsuit. In a very recent case, the California Supreme Court was presented with the issue of whether a "putative spouse's" good faith belief that she was married to the decedent at the time of his death, is to be reviewed from an objective point of view or rather, a purely subjective one. That is, does it matter what the surviving spouse personally believed as to the validity of her marriage, or are the courts expected to look at what an ordinary objective person would believe.

Under California law, a wrongful death action may be brought by a decedent's putative spouse, which is defined as "the surviving spouse of a void or voidable marriage who is found by the court to have believed in good faith that the marriage to the decedent was valid."

In this case, the couple first met in 1999 while the decedent was married -- but separated. He filed for dissolution of his marriage in 2001, and started living with plaintiff at that time. In 2003, the couple filled out a license and certificate of marriage. They marked a "0" in decedent's number of pervious marriages. Plaintiff signed an affidavit verifying the accuracy of the information, despite her awareness of his previous marriage. The marriage license was issued and they married on September 27, 2003. But the decedent was still married to his (original) wife at that time.

Three years later, the decedent died in a construction site accident. Plaintiff brought a wrongful death action against defendant-company asserting that she was his putative spouse. Defendant raised an affirmative defense challenging plaintiff's standing to bring the action based on her status as putative spouse, claiming that she did not have the required "good faith belief" that her marriage was valid.

The trial court ruled granted defendant's motion for summary judgment. But the court of appeal reversed, finding that plaintiff's subjective state of mind (if the court found it to be credible) could support a finding of good faith belief, establishing putative status. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the statute contemplates a subjective standard that focuses on the putative spouse's state of mind to determine whether or not she had a genuine belief in the validity of the marriage. In rendering this decision, the Court pointed out that the trial court erred in applying a "reasonable person test" - requiring plaintiff's belief to be objectively reasonable.

Divorce can be difficult and complicated. An experienced family law attorney can simplify the process enabling both parties to get on with their lives as quickly and painlessly as possible.

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March 28, 2013

California Law Requires The Surrender of Firearms for Virtually All Domestic Violence Court Orders

997480_sign.jpgFortunately for San Diego residents, California has one of the strictest laws on gun rights with respect to orders of protection. This is welcoming news to people, mostly women, who have been the victims of domestic violence. According to a New York Times article, some states do not require gun owners to relinquish their firearms, despite the issuance of an order of protection. Advocates cite constitutionally protected rights to bear arms, even in the face of a domestic violence court order. If you are involved in a domestic violence situation, it is imperative that you contact a local, experienced family law attorney to help you protect your safety and your rights.

California domestic violence laws prohibit the use of physical force or threats to traumatize household members. The laws also take into account that victims of domestic violence can include anyone with whom the alleged perpetrator shares a relationship. This may include dates, fiancées, roommates, children, current and former spouses, and biological parents of a child. Statistics show that, more often than not, when a woman dies in a domestic violence encounter, it is by the use of a gun. Advocates for victim's rights argue that the need to protect a woman's life should trump the right to bear arms.

Pursuant to California law, judges are mandated to order the surrender of firearms in virtually every domestic violence order. There is evidence that laws of this kind are making an impact: according to a 2010 study, there has been a 19 percent reduction in intimate partner homicides. In California, anyone who is served with a temporary restraining order has just 24 hours to hand over any weapons to law enforcement or they may sell the items to a licensed gun dealer.

Although these efforts are commendable, enforcement still remains an issue. In response to these concerns, the state set up a pilot program in 2006 to increase enforcement in San Mateo and Butte Counties. In 2010, when the state experienced fiscal problems, the program's funding was taken away. But San Mateo pursued other means of financing because, as far as they were concerned, their program was saving lives.

According to the head of the major crimes unit in San Mateo County, they have not had a firearm-related domestic violence homicide in the past three years. Just last year alone, they received 324 firearms by virtue of surrender or seizure from 81 people out of more than 800 protective orders. Under the program, each day a detective reviews a handful of protective orders and will follow up on the ones that make some reference to guns by going out and serving restraining orders and attempting to collect the firearms at that moment.

Threats and the use of firearms are not the only forms of domestic violence. Other examples of the infliction of a "corporal injury" on another may be accomplished through striking or hitting, exerting force or violence, cruel or inhumane punishment, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, communicating criminal threats of harm, and neglect or endangerment of health or safety.

Anyone who is the victim of domestic violence should contact the appropriate authorities and seek the assistance of an experienced attorney to help you protect your safety and your rights.

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March 21, 2013

Appellate Court Voids Prenup on Basis of Fraud

332157_contract (1).jpgJust last month, an appeals court in New York sided with a wife who had been on the losing end of a prenuptial agreement -- and essentially threw it out. While the laws in New York do not govern marriages that take place San Diego, the unexpected decision is sending shockwaves through the Family Law community at large. Divorce attorneys throughout the country are talking about the decision, and many believe that a solidly drafted prenup will still hold up in court, despite the surprising decision. If you are contemplating marriage and believe a prenup is the right agreement for your situation, it is imperative, now more than ever, that you consult an experienced, local attorney to draft the agreement.

According to a Wall Street Journal article, four days before their wedding, Peter Petrakis asked his soon-to-be wife, Elizabeth Cioffi, to sign a prenuptial agreement. He gave her an ultimatum - if she didn't sign the document, he would call off the wedding that was already paid for by Elizabeth's father. She agreed to sign, but only after Peter promised to tear up the agreement once they had children. He also promised to put her name on the deed to the house. These last two provisions were not included in the prenup.

After having two sons and one daughter, Elizabeth claimed that Peter reneged on his end of the bargain. Under the prenup, Elizabeth is entitled to $25,000 a year. She argued in court that Peter fraudulently induced her to sign the agreement just days before their wedding. The court agreed, even though Peter's promise was not part of the prenup. It is reported that Peter will appeal the decision to the highest court in the state.

With the prenup decision under her belt, Elizabeth plans to initiate divorce proceedings and will seek half of her husband's assets, estimated at $20 million. Some divorce attorneys have speculated that this decision could be quoted in every case going forward. Others are not sure whether the ruling will establish precedent or if it will be considered a singular decision, applicable only to the facts in this case.

California law requires parties to wait seven days from the day they first see the prenup before signing the document. And as we discussed in an earlier blog post, two important rules governing prenups dictate that the agreement must be in writing and must be fair. "Fair" means that the parties are expected to disclose all relevant financial information, a party must not coerce the other party to sign, and both parties must fully understand what they are signing. As we have seen from the decision in New York, the court agreed that the prenup was not fairly executed, as Elizabeth relied on her husband's verbal promises to tear up the agreement after they had children.

In order to avoid, or at least minimize, unexpected arguments concerning the validity of a prenup, parties are strongly encouraged to contact a local, experienced family law attorney for guidance through this complicated process.

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February 14, 2013

International Adoptions in California May Begin Again from Central Asia

Kyrgyzstanmap.pngA group of prospective adoptive parents from around the United States, including California, learned that they may be able to adopt the children they have grown to know and love after multiple years of waiting. The government of Kyrgyzstan in central Asia announced that it has amended its Family Code to allow international adoptions, after blocking the American families several times. International adoption has been a popular procedure among Americans in recent years. California law also provides several methods for adopting within the state or the U.S.

Kyrgyzstan suspended all international adoptions in 2008 due to multiple allegations of fraud in its social services programs. At that time, American families were waiting for final approval to adopt sixty-five Kyrgyz children. Those families, now known as the "Kyrgyz 65," have continued to wait for more than five years. During that time, Kyrgyzstan experienced a revolution in 2010 and a civil war between the country's Kyrgyz majority and Uzbek minority groups. A few of the Americans gave up during that time, and a few of the children were adopted domestically.

The Kyrgyz government lifted the ban on international adoptions in 2011, allowing some of the adoptions to go through. It reinstated a ban on most of the remaining adoptions in progress in 2012, pending further corruption investigations. Many international adoptions rely on the Hague Adoption Convention, which sets international standards for adoptions between countries, including safeguards of children's welfare and protections against fraud, corruption, and abuse. The U.S. signed the Hague Convention in 1994, shortly after its creation, and it gained the full force of law here in April 2008. Kyrgyzstan has not signed the Hague Convention, but many of its reforms since freezing international adoptions are purportedly intended to bring the country's system in line with the Convention. As of February 26, 2013, the country has lifted the ban.

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January 30, 2013

Man Takes Wife's Name After Wedding, Is Accused of Fraud by State

file000468769683.jpgA Florida man who decided to take his wife's last name discovered that the state's Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) suspected him of fraud as a result. Florida, along with most U.S. states, only provides a simple method for women to change their names upon marriage. A few states, including California, allow spouses of any gender to take the other spouse's name. While a wife taking her husband's name is a longstanding tradition, many couples are finding other options.

According to Reuters, Lazaro Dinh, née Sopena, married Hanh Dinh in 2011. In an "act of love," he decided to take her last name to preserve her family's name. His wife, who is originally from Vietnam, reportedly lived in refugee camps with her sisters, spending seven years separated from their father, before immigrating to the United States in 1990.

After the wedding, Dinh was able to obtain a new driver's license from the Florida DMV by showing his marriage certificate to a clerk and paying a fee. This is the procedure followed by newlywed women all over the country. He also obtained a passport showing his married name. In December 2012, over a year after the wedding, Dinh reportedly received a letter from the DMV, addressed to Lazaro Dinh, that accused him of fraud. It stated that the DMV would suspend his license within weeks.

Dinh called the main DMV office in Tallahassee and spoke to an official who told him he should go through the non-marital name change process. This requires a petition to a court with a $400 filing fee. The DMV official allegedly told Dinh that the marital name change process "only works for women." At a hearing on January 14, the DMV issued a Final Order holding that his license suspension for "fraud" was proper. Dinh is appealing the order, but remains unable to drive.

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January 24, 2013

Court Rules on Definition of a "Nonminor Dependent" Under California Law

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Children in California's foster care system used to "age out" of the system automatically upon reaching the age of eighteen, abruptly ending their access to services. Young adults found themselves turned loose without necessarily having the means or the skills to thrive in the adult world. California passed the California Fostering Connections to Success Act (CFCSA) to correspond to a federal statute and allow "nonminor dependents" to continue in the foster system long enough to acquire the means to join society. A California appellate court recently considered how to apply the definition of "nonminor dependent" in the case of a child who turned eighteen while in the system. In re K.L., No. D061577, slip op. (Cal. App. 4th, Oct. 25, 2012).

The CFCSA became effective on January 1, 2012. Juvenile courts may maintain dependency over qualifying individuals who have turned eighteen but not yet turned twenty-one. The California Welfare and Institutions Code defines a "nonminor dependent" in § 11400(v) as someone who turned eighteen while in a foster care placement under county or Indian tribal jurisdiction; who was eighteen years old or younger on January 1, 2012; and who is involved in a "transitional independent living case plan."

The case before the court involved K.L., a child who turned eighteen in September 2011. The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (the "Agency") had filed a petition under Welfare and Institutions Code § 300(d) based on allegations that her father had sexually abused her. The Agency removed her from her father's home in September 2010, claiming that K.L.'s mother knew she was not safe in her father's home, but had moved out three months earlier. The court declared K.L. a dependent child and ordered reunification services for the mother.

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December 14, 2012

State Laws Present Difficulties for Transgender Man in Divorce Case

701085_49601368.jpgThe case of an Arizona man seeking a divorce from his wife has encountered difficulty based on conflicting provisions of state law. The husband in the case, Thomas Beatie, is a transgender man, having been born a woman and transitioned to male through a variety of means. He obtained legal documents stating that he is a man, and he legally married his wife. He considers himself the father of his three children, but he, rather than his wife, gave birth to them, since he still has female reproductive organs. This has created a dilemma for the judge presiding over the couple's divorce, as Arizona law does not recognize same-sex marriages, and it is not clear if the state recognizes the validity of a marriage between a transgender man and a woman.

Beatie began the process of transitioning to male in 1997, when a psychologist determined that he had "male gender identification." He underwent testosterone therapy, and had his first of a series of surgeries in 2002. Arizona law allows a person, after a sex change operation, to obtain a new birth certificate and other official documents upon written request. After the first set of surgeries, he legally became a man.

He began dating his soon-to-be ex-wife, Nancy, in 1998, and they were married in 2003. Nancy was unable to have children, so Thomas bore all three of the couple's children. He made headlines as "The Pregnant Man," giving birth to children in 2007, 2009, and 2010. The couple separated in early 2012, and filed for divorce in Maricopa County Superior Court.

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December 6, 2012

Juvenile Court May Exercise Jurisdiction Over a Child Even Without Parental Negligence or Abuse - In re Maricela H.

800px-OldPasadena3.JPGA mother appealed a court order giving jurisdiction over her daughter to the juvenile court. She argued, in In re Maricela H., that insufficient evidence existed to support the court's finding because no evidence demonstrated that she was in any way abusive or negligent. The appellate court held that the plain language of the statute does not require actual abuse or negligence, and that the evidence supported the court's ruling. A dissenting judge held that, even with the majority's interpretation of the statute, the juvenile court's jurisdiction was unwarranted.

According to the appellate court's opinion, the mother had little to no control over her daughter, Maricela H. The girl rarely told her mother where she was going, and she abused drugs and alcohol. The mother took Maricela's son in 2010 and cared for him after Maricela gave birth to him at the age of 15. Maricela reportedly left home again on September 16, 2011 and threatened to take the baby with her. In response, the mother contacted the police and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).

DFCS took the baby into custody and placed Maricela into a Pasadena group home. Maricela reportedly expressed a desire to improve, but she continued to act out and abuse drugs. After she ran away from the home on November 8, 2011, she was detained, and DCFS filed a petition under California Welfare and Institutions Code § 300 to have her declared a dependent. Her behavior reportedly improved after that incident. The court declared her a dependent under § 300(b), based on a finding that she was at risk of "serious physical harm or illness" due to her mother's "failure or inability...to adequately supervise or protect" her. The mother appealed this decision.

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November 15, 2012

California Couple in Ghana to Adopt Children Accused of Child Trafficking and Jailed

Gh-map.pngA couple who traveled from California to Ghana to adopt several children found themselves accused of child trafficking and imprisoned in the west African nation. Although a Ghanaian judge had reportedly approved the adoption, police arrested the couple and took the children away. After social media coverage of the arrest and detention led to intervention by U.S. authorities, the couple was released and reunited with the children. Eventually, they were reunited with the children in California. The case illustrates the importance of federal and international laws in many state adoption and child custody cases. As San Diego reportedly continues to experience high human trafficking rates, and the issue receives extensive scrutiny from law enforcement, these laws are critically important to understand.

The Associated Press reported on the arrest of Sol and Christine Moghadam in June 2012. The Irvine couple had two biological children, and they had applied to adopt four siblings from Ghana. They had traveled to Ghana to visit the children and finalize some legal procedures. A judge approved their application and named them the legal guardians of the four children, but they still needed visas from the U.S. State Department. Police reportedly arrested the couple as they were taking all six children to celebrate the judge's order. According to the AP, the police had received an anonymous phone call reporting that the Moghadams had forged the judge's signature on the legal documents, and accusing them of child trafficking.

Police put the couple in a jail cell and took the children to an orphanage, where they remained while the couple was in custody. The Moghadams were not able to contact the U.S. Embassy, but Christine reportedly still had her cell phone with her in the jail cell. She posted an account of what had happened on her Facebook page, and the story spread around the globe within twenty-four hours. U.S. officials intervened on the Moghadams' behalf, and Ghanaian police released them and their two biological children. According to a blog maintained by the Moghadams, the four Ghanaian children were reunited with them in the U.S. in September.

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September 13, 2012

California Court of Appeals Affirms Parental Rights of Former Same-Sex Couple

505709_75076992.jpgA woman appealed a trial court's ruling, which held that her former partner is the child's second parent based on the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA). In her appeal in L.M. v. M.G., the woman argued that the court could not declare anyone to be the child's second parent because the child had a single-parent adoption decree. The Fourth District Court of Appeals was not persuaded and affirmed the trial court's ruling.

From 1998 to 2003, M.G. and L.M. cohabited as same-sex partners, although they never registered a domestic partnership with the state. M.G. sought to adopt a child from a woman in Tijuana, Mexico in 2000. She arranged for the woman to live in California until she gave birth, and the child was born in November 2000. M.G. officially adopted the child in October 2001, and she and L.M. shared childcare duties. L.M. told the court that, at the time of the adoption, they planned on registering as domestic partners, and L.M. planned on adopting the child as a second parent.

California allows a partner in a same-sex couple to adopt the other partner's child. The process generally matches the process of adoption of a child by a stepparent in a marriage. The California Supreme Court recognized this process, commonly known as second parent adoption, in Sharon S. v. Superior Court of San Diego County, 73 P.3d 554 (Cal. 2003).

M.G. and L.M.'s relationship ended in 2003. As a result, the two did not complete the adoption process for L.M. After their separation, the child primarily lived with M.G., but he regularly stayed overnight at L.M.'s house several times a month. L.M. said she did not commence court proceedings to establish parentage at the time on the advice of several attorneys, who noted the lack of legal precedent before the Sharon S. case and M.G.'s willingness to share custody.

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August 9, 2012

California Bill Would Expand Criteria for Legal Designation as Parent of a Child

838397_54880119.jpgA bill pending in the California Legislature, SB 1476, would modify the Family Code by allowing a court to designate more than two people as legal parents of a child, if the court concludes that doing so would be in the child's best interest.

State Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, introduced the bill on February 24, 2012. He says that it would amend California law to match the present reality of many families. State law allows a court to designate a person other than a child's biological parent as a legal "parent," but it explicitly limits the number of parents to two. The bill, if enacted, could impact children in families with unmarried parents, step-parents, or parents in same-sex relationships. Critics, in addition to rhetoric about changing the definition of family, contend that the bill could expose children to further stress in the event of a divorce, as custody could be split three or more ways, instead of just two.

Senator Leno's inspiration for the bill, according to Debra Saunders of the North County Times, was a child known in court documents as "M.C." M.C.'s biological parents had a brief relationship but never married. M.C.'s mother, "Melissa," married her former partner "Irene" during the brief period when same-sex marriages were legal in California. M.C.'s biological father, "Jesus," provided support for the child. Melissa later sought a divorce from Irene and started a new relationship. Melissa's new boyfriend, allegedly with Melissa's "complicity," stabbed Irene. Jesus, who by then lived in Oklahoma, sought custody of M.C. Because Irene was legally married to Melissa when M.C. was born, she was the presumed second parent under California law.

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July 26, 2012

Judge Upholds Child Support Order Against Woman Who Returned Adopted Son to Russia

320px-Kremlevskaya_Naberezhnaja_Moscow.hires.jpgA Tennessee woman who now resides in California must pay $150,000 in child support for the adopted child she gave up in 2010, according to a Tennessee judge's ruling. Torry Hansen made headlines when she reportedly put her adopted son on an airplane back to Russia by himself. The adoption agency filed suit against her for child support last year.

After adopting the then-7 year-old boy from Russia with the help of a Seattle-based international adoption agency, Hansen claimed that she became concerned with the child's behavior. According to Hansen's mother, the boy became violent, hitting and screaming at Hansen and threatening to kill family members. Hansen claims that her parents took him, and that they made the decision to send him back to Russia. No one ever contacted the police or the state's social services agency.

The boy arrived alone at the Moscow airport in April 2010. He reportedly had a note in his jacket pocket from Hansen, addressed to the Russian Ministry of Education, calling the boy "mentally unstable" and "violent," and claiming that he had "severe psychopathic issues/behaviors." The note accused the Russian orphanage of lying about the child's mental health. Russian officials vigorously disputed Hansen's descriptions of the boy, and the child reportedly spent six weeks in a psychiatric hospital due to emotional trauma. A Russian court ruled that Hansen's actions amounted to child neglect and abuse. The boy currently lives in a group home for children near Moscow.

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