Many states are contemplating new parenting laws, following the legalization of same-sex marriages in Conneticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland and a handful of others. What prompted these new laws into the government consideration was the recognition of the rights for same-sex couples to have and raise children. This is a landmark step in equal rights and something many should keep their eyes on as we progress towards the future. Currently, some states, such as California and New York have proposed and passed bills to allow for more than two parents to be listed on birth certificates and legal adoption papers, to legalize parentage in same-sex marriage or partnership scenarios. The decision to legally recognize more than two parents also came about when several cases showing the inability of both legal parents to provide for the child, resulted in state interventions and custody when a perfectly capable third or fourth non-legal parent was present. The different states in the U.S. have seen an influx in the amount of children placed in state custody, a problem lawmakers are looking to remedy in coming years.
The new laws will also help step-parents in heterosexual relationships, have parental rights to children of their spouses should something happen rendering them unable to care for the children from a previous relationship. This, of course, would occur when the other biological parent can either not take care of the children or is deceased. Lawmakers are quick to reassure parents that these new laws will not redefine traditional laws concerning legal parents, but simply provide a safety net to keep children out of foster care and in their own family units should the unthinkable happen to one or two natural parents.
Emotions are mixed across the nation regarding these laws, as many conservatives feel that grandparents are the only family needed to take care of children whose parents can no longer provide. Others are quick to point out that grandparents are not always available to do this with aging and health complications, touting the fact they have already raised their children therefore should not be held accountable.
Other parenting laws making headlines include Arizona's new parenting laws centering around divorced couples and their children. The term "visitation" has been thrown out as of January 1st, and replaced with the term "parenting time." This was done to help increase the time of non-custodial parents and increase the importance of them within the child's life. Those who share joint-custody will be referred to as "legal-decision makers" giving both parents the option to discuss education, religious beliefs and health before a final decision is made, leaving it far from one-sided. Parents with joint status can also split up the choices, each being in charge of one or more key issues regarding their children. This provides more flexibility, without the emphasis of only one parent.
Minnesota laws were also updated regarding parenting in the cases of child abuse. Before 2012, it was only required for one parent to be advised of abuse towards a child. Now, both parents are to be notified. This law was inspired by a child who was visiting his father back in 2005, and was sexually assaulted by a neighbor. The law has rightfully been named, Jacob's Law, after the boy who suffered such an ordeal.
The United States strives to put forth new laws regularly to stamp out the growing child abuse cases that have been making national news lately. It also seems that many other countries are following suit, not only in parenting cases but also to help eliminate elderly abuse and neglect. Two topics that deserve more than just a passing glance.