40 + Types of Parents Making up Today’s Modern Families


For many years I have been interested in all the variations of parents we can have, and I started writing and speaking about this in the early 1990’s. Below is an outline of the “40+ Different Types of Parents Making up Today’s Family” written in 2000 by myself and two other Certified Family Law Specialists, Lorrainne C. Gollub (ret) and Leslie Ellen Shear, (www.custodymatters.com) for a presentation we made to California family law specialists. References are to California statutes from year 2000 and California cases prior to year 2000.


1.        Biological and genetically related.

2.       Biological (gestational) but not genetically related. In vitro fertilization  (The   fertilized ova of another woman has been implanted in her womb).

3.       Surrogate and biologically genetically related. Traditional surrogacy. (Ms. Whitehead in Baby M; Ms. Jordan in Moschetta.

4.       Surrogate (gestational) and not biologically genetically related.  (The fertilized ova of another woman have been implanted in her womb.) Surrogate in Buzzanca; Johnson in  Johnson v. Calvert.

5.       Egg donor: intends to raise child.

6.       Egg donor: does not intend to raise child. Buzzanca.

7.       Intended mother. Luanne in Buzzanca.

8.       Legal adoptive mother.

  1. A.   Married;
  2. B.   Unmarried;
  3. C.   Single parent;
  4. D.  Step parent.

9.       Same sex parent and joint decision to conceive child not biologically related.  (Generally a lesbian relationship.)

10.     Same sex parent and biologically related.  (Curiale v. Reagan)

11.      Same sex parent and joint decision to adopt a non-related child. Joint adoption.

12.     Same sex parent and second parent adoption.

13.     Guardian. Philip B.; Kaylee.

14.     De facto parent. (Relatives or strangers.)


1.       Biological father and husband. (Conclusive presumption if child born of marriage [Family Code § 7540]; but see Family Code § 7541 where blood tests constitute exception to conclusive presumption.)

2.       Biological father and not married.  (Presumed natural father — meets statutory requirements of Family Code  §7611. However see Family Code § 7612 which indicates Family Code § 7611 is a rebuttable presumption, and Family Code §7570, establishment of paternity by voluntary declaration.) (Steven W.)

3.       Not presumed natural father.  (Does not meet statutory requirements of Family Code §7611.)

4.       Sperm donor with no rights or responsibilities intended. (Family Code
§7613 (b)

5.       Husband with artificial insemination by unknown donor during marriage. (Family Code §7613, all rights intended for husband.)

6.       Sperm donor with limited rights intended.  (By contract only).

7.       Legal adoptive father. (See Family Code §7610 where parent-child relationship is established by proof of adoption. Family Code § 8500 et. seq., for adoption statutes.)

  1. A.   Married;
  2. B.   Unmarried;
  3. C.   Single parent;
  4. D.  Step parent.

8.       Adoption by Estoppel (used in support cases).

9.       Husband but not biologically related. (Husband may still be presumed to be the father if he comes within the purview of the presumptions set forth in Family Code §7611. See also Family Code §9000 et. seq., for step-parent adoptions.) (Husband in Michael H., husband in Dawn D.)

  1. A.   Mother’s husband not biological father (found to be the parent) Dawn D, Michael H.;
  1. B.   Mother’s husband not biological father (found not to be parent)

(Melissa G., Leslie B., Ethan S., Comino v. Kelly).

10.     Biological father with no legal rights because Husband’s rights prevail. (However see Family Code §7541 where mother or father of child can request blood tests to determine paternity if within two years of the child’s birth and other requirements met.) (Jerry K. in Dawn D)

11.      Intended father. (John , Luanne’s husband in Buzzanca.)

12.     De facto.

13.     Guardian. (See Probate Code § 1500 et. seq., and in particular, probate Code §1514 where the best interests of the child are considered in a appointment of a guardian.)


1.       Grandparents

2.       Foster parents

3.       Step-parents

4.       Step-grandparents

5.       Absentee parents.

6.       Social parent.

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