Publication Date

April 2019


Jonathan Cutler


Sociology, American Studies (AMST)


English (United States)


Fewer than half of all children living in the U.S. live in intact, different-sex, married households. As the shape and structure of the traditional, nuclear family transform in practice, the law dawdles behind. The incongruence between the law and reality often invalidates non-traditional families, rendering them vulnerable without legal recourse. In family law, the rule of two stipulates that each child can have no more than two legal parents. A recent statute in California, the first in the U.S., granted courts the authority to adjudicate more than two legal parents. That statute resulted from a case called In re M.C. in which a court ruled that a child had three legal parents, prompting an immediate reversal of the decision but substantial contemplation as what the next course-of-action should be to protect these families. This thesis investigates parental exclusivity through the following: a historical glance, the politics and jurisprudence of the California case and its consequential statute, as well as the legal obstacles facing the wider campaign to expand the rule of two.



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