October 6, 2014 By Paul Wallin
rights of gay parents
The Modern Family Act affects the rights of gay parents in California.

As our society transforms, our laws often change with it. In recent years, there has been a movement to legalize gay marriage. The movement has prompted change in laws governing marriage all over the country, specifically in California. Lawmakers have increasingly been considering these changes and how the changes will affect families.

Some proposed and newly passed legislation deals specifically with how the family unit is now less likely to be headed by heterosexual married parents. Assembly Bill No. 2344, otherwise known as the “Modern Family Act,” will affect the rights of gay parents. The bill has passed the legislature and is currently in the enrollment phase, which means it is being checked for accuracy before the governor grants the final approval on the legislation.

What is the Modern Family Act?

With the changes in marriage laws, we are also seeing changes in adoption legislation as well as laws governing assisted reproductive technologies. The Modern Family Act takes into account that non-traditional couples and their children need specific means to gain social acceptance and legal recognition of their families. The Act establishes several rights for non-traditional families.1

What constitutes Assisted Reproductive Technology?

Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) consist of various scientific methods of conceiving a child for couples who may be infertile, want to prevent disease or cannot conceive simply as a matter of being a same-sex couple. The Act focuses on the rights of parentage.

How will the Modern Family Act Affect the Rights of Gay Parents in California?

The new law affects three main groups:

  • those using sperm donors to conceive
  • cases where a step-parent adopts a partner’s or spouse’s child
  • and those using gestational carriers, otherwise known as surrogates

Rights of Parents Using Sperm Donation to Conceive

The Act’s provisions establish rights for those who use ART means to conceive children and form their families. The first provision will add Section 7613.5 to the California Family Code, to establish rights for parents for pregnancies achieved through sperm donation.

The proposed additions to the Family Code refer parents to certain forms that lay out their parenting rights and responsibilities, if any exist, of the sperm donor. The Act will help provide clarity regarding a person’s intent to be a legal parent in these cases. This provision helps parents know the rights associated with pregnancy achieved through sperm donation.

Rights Associated with Step Parent Adoptions

step parent adoption
Step parent adoption will be available for same-sex couples.

The second provision affects the rights of stepparents wishing to adopt their partner’s or spouse’s children. The provision establishes an efficient process by which same-sex married couples may adopt each other’s children. It will also help resolve inequities that apply to same-sex married couples and domestic partners by simplifying the adoption process and waiving certain fees.

Under the current laws, the prospective adoptive parent is liable for all costs incurred in connection with the adoption, including costs incurred for the investigation of the stepparent’s background. This provision will assure that same-sex married couples do not have to go through expensive adoption proceedings to have their parentage recognized in other states.

Rights of Parents using Surrogacy

The final provision of the new law will amend California Family Code Section 7962 to provide guidance for parents using a gestational carrier (surrogate) as a method for conception and childbirth. The provision specifically addresses medical costs associated with surrogacy and provides information regarding insurance programs and surrogacy costs. This amendment to the Family Code is intended to provide parents using this method of child bearing with clearer guidelines as to what the expected costs of surrogacy are and how these costs may or may not be covered by requiring a disclosure of the manner in which the intended parents will pay the medical expenses associated with surrogacy.

Call the Family Law Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich

At Wallin & Klarich, we understand the importance of understanding your rights, especially when it comes to rights affecting gay marriage. Having an attorney is crucial when determining how to proceed with contracts dealing with sperm donation, surrogacy and adoption. If you are considering any or all of these methods of expanding your family, it is important that you seek the assistance of an experienced family law attorney immediately. Our knowledgeable attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience successfully helping our clients with family law matters. Let us help you today.

With offices located in Orange County, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Torrance, Riverside, West Covina, Victorville, Ventura, San Diego and Sherman Oaks, our knowledgeable attorneys are available to help you no matter where you are located.

Call us today at (888) 749-7428 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.

1. [http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140AB2344]

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