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Today is Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Non-Biological Father Wins Parental Rights

[SAN FRANCISCO, CA] ? The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a man who helped rear a young boy since birth is his lawful father even though he is not the biological parent.

The justices' unanimous decision overturned a state appeals court ruling that the man had no legal right to the boy. The case was unusual in that there was only one man asserting legal fatherhood, and it wasn't the biological father. That man has never come forward in the custody dispute.

"What the court said is that, to the extent that people volunteer and assume the role of parent, their rights should be acknowledged," said Francia Walker, the appointed attorney who represented the 7-year-old boy in the dispute.

The decision did not address what would happen in a parental rights case involving a biological father and another man.

The case concerns Nicholas, who has been living with his non-biological father, Thomas, in the Southern California city of Lakewood. Because the matter involves a custody dispute, the court withheld their last names.

Thomas started living with Nicholas' mother, Kimberly, after she became pregnant with Nicholas by another man. They have since split.

Kimberly was jailed for minor offenses, and when she got out two years ago, she claimed Thomas had no legal right to the boy.

Now that the state Supreme Court has recognized Thomas as the legal father, he will seek legal custody of the child, his attorney said.

But the mother's attorney, Sheri Cohen, said Kimberly will seek custody of the child.

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