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Recent Laws - Moving Away from the Traditional Family

Recent Laws: Moving Away from the Traditional Family?

Several recent blog posts have directly or indirectly addressed the shift away from the traditional family of a mother, father, and two children to a more blended family, often involving participation from extended family members and step-parents. Other third parties can even be guardians or custodians who are not related to the parties, but help raise the children.

A recently passed California law allows for a change from the statutory two-parents-per child definition1. This newly adopted law allows that custody, visitation, and child support could be divided among three or more people as parents if it is in the best interests of the child. A similar bill was vetoed by the governor in late September, 2012 due to ambiguity and potential unintended consequences2.

In Indiana, there would have been several implications for this type of bill/law, including third party and de facto custodians who may have raised the child for a significant period of time, grandparents who have helped raise and support children, and same sex couples who may not be biologically related to the child. Currently, Indiana law defines parent for the purposes of juvenile law as “a biological or an adoptive parent. Unless otherwise specified, the term includes both parents, regardless of their marital status”3.

The California law notes that the best interests of the child would be the main consideration, and not all parents may share physical or legal custody of the child. Child support will be divided among the parents “in a manner that is just and appropriate based on income and amount of time spent with the child by each parent…”.

Similar bills have been submitted in Delaware, Maine, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia4. This shows a trend away from the “traditional” family to account for others, related by blood or not, who significantly assist in raising children and who create bonds with children that it may be the in the best interests of the children to maintain and encourage.

We hope that this blog post has been helpful in exploring a trend of bills to determine “family” in the modern age. There continues to be a pattern of some exploration away from the nuclear family to allow interactions with parties who may not be a child’s “parent” under currently defined law, but who have substantially and significantly contributed to the upbringing of the child.

Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This blog post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.


  1. See SB 274
  2. https://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/sen/sb_1451-1500/sb_1476_vt_20120930.html
  3. See Ind. Code 31-9-2-88
  4. https://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/07/03/12543099-california-bill-would-allow-children-to-have-more-than-two-parents?lite
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Ciyou & Dixon, P.C., is a law firm located in Indianapolis, Indiana. We serve clients in six core practice areas: family lawappellate practicefirearms lawgeneral practicepersonal injury and criminal law.

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Based in Indianapolis and founded in 1995, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. is a niche law firm focused on successfully dealing with the complexities of divorce, high-conflict child custody and family law. Known for their ability to solve extremely complex situations with high quality work and responsiveness, Ciyou & Dixon will guide you every step of the way. The family law attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. will help you precisely identify your objectives and the means to reach your desired result. In addition, this practice focus is augmented by the firm's other three core areas, namely appellate advocacy, civil practice, and firearms law. Life is uncertain. Be certain of your counselSM.

Indianapolis Divorce Attorneys, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. of Indianapolis, Indiana, offers legal services for Indianapolis, Zionsville, Noblesville, Carmel, Avon, Anderson, Danville, Greenwood, Brownsburg, Geist, Fortville, McCordsville, Muncie, Greenfield, Westfield, Fort Wayne, Fishers, Bloomington, Lafayette, Marion County, Hamilton County, Hendricks County, Allen County, Delaware County, Morgan County, Hendricks County, Boone County, Vigo County, Johnson County, Hancock County, and Tippecanoe County, Indiana.