Salt Lake City, UT – With the Utah Supreme Court decision handed down in the Jones v. Barlowcase (lesbian custody case), the issue of “psychological parents” is once again front and center. Currently before the State Legislature is SB 248, Parent and Child Amendments, sponsored by Sen. Curt Bramble and supported by Sutherland Institute.
“With the increasing breakdown of the family, we witness all sorts of diverse personal relationships and, unfortunately, many of these new relationships impact children,” explains Paul T. Mero, president of the Sutherland Institute. “The one thing all of these relationships have in common is a biological family tie. That hasn’t changed. Our laws should continue to respect that single, vital, biological link across generations.”
At issue in cases involving so-called “psychological parents,” such as Barlow, is a situation where a non-biological, personal relationship purportedly exists between an adult and a child. After a separation occurs between the biological parent and the non-biological adult, the latter might claim to have a “psychological parenthood” over the biological parent’s child and demand legal visitation or joint custody.
“Clarity is needed now more than ever,” said former Rep. LaVar Christensen, sponsor of the original bill last year and Sutherland trustee. “I commend the Legislature and the Governor’s office for working together to enact this bill. SB 248 should become law immediately.”
· SB 248 reaffirms the long-standing legal definition of in loco parentis as a “voluntary and temporary delegation” of parental authority.
· SB 248 explicitly states that in loco parentis cannot be used as the sole basis for permanently placing a child in non-biological custodial care.
· SB 248 exempts granting a priority to a biological parent in cases where the biological parent is unfit or where a court rules that a child would be harmed.
· SB 248 won’t interfere with established legal relationships of any grandparent, step parent, or with any circumstance arising from a divorce proceeding.
· SB 248 establishes that in loco parentis cannot be invoked contrary to standing public policy and law.