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Hastings Law Journal

Abstract

Two recent decisions of the California Court of Appeal, Curiale v. Reagan and Nancy S. v. Michele G., have held that in the context of child custody and visitation battles, the status of legal parent is limited to biological and adoptive parents. The effect of these decisions is to seriously limit the options available to nonbiological parents in same-sex relationships who wish to pursue child custody and visitation actions.

This Note considers the legal remedies currently available to lesbian parents. It examines the existing, yet ineffective strategies, available to these parents in California and explains why the California statutory scheme is a barrier to their success. Analysis of other states' schemes which promote a different result from that presently reached in California leads the author to conclude that the California legislature must recognize alternative family choices. The Note proposes a two-part statutory change: (1) a redefinition of the parent-child relationship; and (2) the enactment of a second parent adoption statute. These changes will provide legal recognition and protection to intentionally created nontraditional families while avoiding unwarranted intrusion from unqualified third parties.

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