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What Legal Right Does Sandra Bullock Have?

Should the Concept of a Common Law Parent Exist?

Common law marriage is recognized in some states, but what about the concept of common law parents and children? If a couple divorces or splits, a child who is only biologically tied to one of the adults may be shaken by the change in circumstance, particularly if they had a close or lengthy relationship with the other half. When news of Jesse James' infidelity hit the news recently, the public speculated about the lack of legal rights step mom Sandra Bullock has to his three children whom she grew fond of during the course of their marriage — namely his youngest daughter Sunny, 6, who the actress helped raise since the girl's mother was in jail.

Then, this week Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy called it quits. The couple was together for five years and spent a great deal of time campaigning for autism in honor of Jenny's 7-year-old son, Evan. While we're certain these celebrities will work out what is best for the kids and pseudo parents involved, it made us wonder what happens in cases that aren't publicized or when split-ups aren't amicable. Do you think the concept of a common law parent/child relationship should exist to protect all those bonds?

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Join The Conversation
karesmile karesmile 5 years
I don't think common law parental rights should exist. However! I do feel that step parents, and those who have acted as a child's parent while with the child's actual parent SHOULD have rights in the event the biological parent dies. Say Jesse James and Sandra stay together, and Jesse dies. Sandra should have parental rights. Right now, if they stay together and he were to die, Sandra would have NO rights, even as a step parent who has been there for those children for years. It's a problem that really needs to be addressed. But again, otherwise, it's the bio parent's choice whether to give rights to the significant other if they choose to break up.
runningesq runningesq 5 years
No. If there are too many people named as legal guardians, making decisions about the child's medical care, education, religion, etc. would be next to impossible. How would it work with a child who has several legal guardians: biological mom, biological dad, stepmom, stepdad, grandparent, ex-stepmom, etc. ? Do all of those people attend school conferences?
Girl-Jen Girl-Jen 5 years
Wow, I was thinking something totally different when I read this! I wasn't thinking custody, I was thinking, "Should a third party, whether a relative or a parent's significant other, get parenting rights too?" I would LOVE for my twin brother to have the same parental rights as I do. He parents my daughter along with her father and I, and I want him to have next of kin type rights. As far as custody goes, I think common-law parents would be a good option to have. It wouldn't work for everyone, of course, but any way to build a family that can operate in the best interest of a child is fine with me.
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