Monday, July 30, 2012

California Legislature Considers Allowing Multiple Parents

California, a state grappling with a wide array of legal issues surrounding alternative families, has added one more to the mix. A recent bill, SB1476, would allow children to be legally given more than two parents.

As written, the bill would apply equally to men and women, regardless of whether they were in homosexual or heterosexual relationships. The bill’s sponsor, State Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, says that the bill is about bringing the state into the 21st century and recognizing that complicated family situations exist. He says the state must recognize that “there are more than ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ families today.” The bill has already passed the state Senate and now awaits a vote in the state Assembly.

Senator Leno said he first noticed a problem with the legal system back in 2011 when he read about an appellate court placing a girl in foster care after her legally married lesbian parents were unable to care for her. The child was taken into state custody after one of her mother’s was put in prison and the other was hospitalized. The court was not allowed to appoint the girl’s biological father, with whom she had a relationship, as a legal parent. Something that Leno believes would have greatly benefited the welfare of the child.  

The law would require that parents qualify under all legal standards and agree on custody, visitation and child support before a judge could divide up responsibilities. If California passes such a law it won’t be alone, already Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maine and the District of Columbia have laws on the books recognizing more than two parents.

The bill certainly has its detractors. Glenn T. Stanton, from the group Focus on the Family, argues that though the bill appears to advocate for children, it is actually a tool to allow adults to create what he calls “radical families.” He says that children are best cared for by one mother and one father and “this bill would only take us farther down the trail of more ‘experimental families’ that fulfill adult desires, but consistently fail our children.”

Senator Leno argues that a new law would address more than just same-sex families, including situations where a man raises a non-biological child with a woman, but the child also maintains a relationship with the biological father. Other examples include a lesbian couple who might want a male friend who provided the sperm for their child to serve as a legal parent. Leno says it is in the best interest of the child to have multiple parents capable of providing financial support, health insurance and important benefits.

Some legal experts in California caution that the law could have an unforeseen impact on an array of issues such as wrongful death suits (which parents are able to file a claim) and tax deductions.

If you find yourself facing the prospect of divorce, contact an experienced Ohio family law attorney who can help guide you through the difficult process. Count on the expertise of Twinsburg family law attorney Carol L. Gasper.

Source:My Three Daddies: California Eyes Multiple Parenting Law,” by Susan James, published at

See Our Related Blog Posts:
Move over gay marriage, the newest controversy involves gay divorce

Thursday, July 5, 2012

How Does ‘Equitable Division’ Work in Ohio?

Posted on: July 5, 2012

Divorce courts in Ohio apply the legal concept of equitable distribution when it comes time to split the assets and debts of a divorcing couple. This means that the entire marital estate, assets and liabilities, must be divided in an equitable manner, though not necessarily equally. There is no fixed standard for dividing property, each case will be decided on its facts, and the trial court’s discretion will not be disturbed on appeal without a showing of clear abuse (an incredibly tough standard to meet).

Property includes pretty much everything: personal items (such as cars, furniture and art work) and real property (land and houses). Debts include anything you owe money on: mortgages, car loans, and credit card bills. Really anything the two of you possess is thrown into the mix before it’s all divided.

One piece of advice that can help save time and start things off on the right track is to try arriving at your first meeting with your attorney with a list of all your assets. When drawing up the list keep in mind when and how you acquired the property, its current value and a list of any debts.

It’s important to know that not all property is subject to equitable division. Items that qualify as non-marital include the following: property acquired by either party before the marriage; property acquired after certain stages of the divorce process; property excluded by a written contract between the parties (likely a prenuptial agreement); and any increase in value of non-marital property that did not result from efforts of the other spouse.

Judges consider a multitude of factors when deciding how to divide property between spouses and it’s sometimes hard to know which issues hold the most sway. Here are some examples of the things judges consider when dividing property:

·         The length of the marriage.
·         The financial contributions of each spouse to the marriage.
·         The age and health of the parties.
·         Misconduct in the marriage and whether one of the spouses is the reason for the dissolution.
·         The child custody arrangement.
·         Any potential spousal support awards.

After determining what percentage of the marital estate each spouse is entitled to, the next step involves coming up with the proper asset division to achieve the mandated split. This is the stage where it’s decided who gets what: the house, the cars and other assets. The division continues until each party receives their appropriate share of the marital estate.

If you find yourself facing the prospect of divorce, contact an experienced Ohio family law attorney who can help guide you through the difficult process. Count on the expertise of Twinsburg family law attorney Carol L. Gasper.

Source:Who Gets What Where,” published at

See Our Related Blog Posts: