The California legislature is debating a bill that would allow a child to have more than two parents. According to this article in the Sacramento Bee:

Examples of three-parent relationships that could be affected by SB 1476 include:

• A family in which a man began dating a woman while she was pregnant, then raised that child with her for seven years. The youth also had a parental relationship with the biological father.

• A same-sex couple who asked a close male friend to help them conceive, then decided that all three would raise the child.

• A divorce in which a woman and her second husband were the legal parents of a child, but the biological father maintained close ties as well.

How would a three-parent arrangement work for purposes of who can claim the child on a tax return? Since this is a new story and the proposal hasn’t become law yet, I haven’t done hard-core research, but these are a few “top of my head” thoughts:

  • If all three parents live together, I suppose the three could decide among themselves who claims the child. That’s how it works for same-sex couples who are the legal parents of a child: as long as they all live together more than half the year, then the couple can decide who claims the child.
  • If the child splits time between his or her three parents, the situation seems to get complicated. The child has to live with a taxpayer “more than half the year” in order for a taxpayer to claim the child.
  • And if this involves divorced opposite-sex parents (but not same-sex parents because the federal government never recognized the marriage in the first place), the divorce decree would come into play, too.
I’ll look into this more if the bill actually becomes law.

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