Relational Parents: When Adults Receive Rights in Children Because of Their Relationship with a Parent

The Oxford Handbook of Children and the Law (James G. Dwyer ed. 2019)

University of Illinois College of Law Legal Studies Research Paper, No. 19-18

36 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2019

Date Written: May 9, 2019

Abstract

Significant changes in family forms and dynamics (such as increases in non-marital cohabitation, children cared for by extended family, and same-sex couples with children) have prompted policymakers to rethink the question of who is a legal parent. Specifically, the law is grappling with which adults will be granted parental status or rights based on their relationship with a child’s parent and why. This chapter reviews the mounting number of doctrinal hooks used by courts, legislatures, and law reformers for deciding when adults can make claims in children. It examines traditional parentage and family privacy doctrines, reviews justifications for a dramatic widening of the parental tent, and then turns to a set of fairness and child-welfare concerns raised by these concepts, highlighting four major worries. It argues that costs of considering the parentage claims of relational parents—both to the legal parent and to the child—have received inadequate weight to date.

Suggested Citation

Wilson, Robin Fretwell, Relational Parents: When Adults Receive Rights in Children Because of Their Relationship with a Parent (May 9, 2019). The Oxford Handbook of Children and the Law (James G. Dwyer ed. 2019); University of Illinois College of Law Legal Studies Research Paper, No. 19-18. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3385791 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3385791

Robin Fretwell Wilson (Contact Author)

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States
217.244.7582 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.robinfretwellwilson.org

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