Tri-Parenting

As times change, our notions of parenting and family are changing with it.  The law is required to change to keep up with the times.  With domestic partnerships and same-sex marriage becoming more common, families are faced with new sets of facts that would not have previously been considered.  One such situation arose in a recent case called D.G. v. K.S., wherein the court was faced with the issue of psychological parenting and how to craft a parenting schedule where the parties had historically conducted a “tri-parenting” arrangement.

In that case, D.G. and his husband S.H. entered into an agreement with their female friend, K.S.  The parties agreed to use K.S.’s egg and D.G.’s sperm to have a baby, and to give the child S.H.’s last name.  All three prepared for the baby’s arrival by setting up their respective homes for the child.  Usually during the summer, D.G. and S.H. had the majority of the parenting time, and during the winter, K.S. had the majority of the parenting time.  K.S. would also take the child to Costa Rica, where she had another home.  Up to this point, there was no written agreement.  The parties had come to a mutual agreement to conceive and raise a child, with all three adults acting as parents.  However, in 2013, K.S. decided she wanted to relocate to California.  After rejecting K.S.’s parenting time proposal, D.G. and S.H. filed a complaint to determine parenting time.

At the final hearing, S.H. was determined to be a “psychological parent” of the child.  There are legal requirements for being deemed a psychological parent in New Jersey, namely: 1) the biological parent has consented to the relationship between the adult and child and fostered the formation of a parent-child relationship, 2) the adult and child resided in the same household, 3) the adult acted in a supporting role to the child, either monetarily or through his or her time, and 4) the arrangement continued long enough to allow a bond to form between the child and the adult. 

Having determined that S.H. was a psychological parent to the child, the court then went on to analyze the case just like any other parental relocation case, only this time the court had to decide between three parents divided in two households.  The court reviewed the stability of the respective homes and parties, the history of cooperation and respect between the parties, the consistency each home would offer the child, and other similar issues.

New types of family structures are created every day.  We have experience in helping clients create fair parenting schedules that benefit their children, even in untraditional family structures.  Call us today at (732) 529-6937 to talk about your case.
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