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Dangers in De Facto Parenthood

20 Pages Posted: 30 May 2014 Last revised: 18 Jul 2017

Jeffrey A. Parness

Northern Illinois University - College of Law

Date Written: May 28, 2014


The almost infinite variety of family relationships that pervade our everchanging society necessitate new forms of parentage for children with only one parent. These new forms arise long after the childrens’ births and are typically founded on the developed relationships between the children and their new second parents. Yet these informal adoptions leading to second parent childcare orders serve to diminish the superior parental rights of the existing parents. And these informal adoptions leading to second parent child support orders constitute property deprivations subject to due process limitations.

To date the dangers in informal adoptions have not been well addressed and barely recognized. The constitutional interests of single and second parents (if not of their children and their family members) will only be properly respected if informal adoption laws are altered so as to include new eligibility standards; require clearer forms of consent to second parenthood; demand clear and convincing evidence for judicial recognitions of parental-like relationships between second parents and children; and, become better known, with special attention paid to educating about the significant interstate differences.

Suggested Citation

Parness, Jeffrey A., Dangers in De Facto Parenthood (May 28, 2014). 37 University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review 25 (2014). Available at SSRN:

Jeffrey A. Parness (Contact Author)

Northern Illinois University - College of Law ( email )

Swen Parson Hall
DeKalb, IL 60115
United States

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