Law;Family law;Parental Rights


This piece is the first in a series on functional parenthood growing out of an empirical study of all electronically available cases from the last forty years decided under functional parent doctrines, including cases that feature more than two parental figures.20 Our goal is to provide a more empirically grounded understanding of the circumstances under which a child may have functional parents, including situations in which a child has more than two parents, and an accurate assessment of the range of factual contexts in which courts may be asked to adjudicate the issue. We supply a more comprehensive and detailed empirical analysis of functional parent doctrines in other work, and we plan to provide an examination of multi-parent recognition on a national scale.21 But this piece draws on findings from one jurisdiction with respect to multi-parent recognition. Our analysis of this set of cases challenges assumptions that undergird the existing theoretical dialogue about multi-parent families.

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