The Case Of The Multiple Mothers

Alice’s parents were divorced when she was only three years old. Alice was raised mostly by her grandmother. She lived with grandma until she was six years old. Eventually, her mother began living with a new husband. Mom decided to bring her daughter with her.

But Alice’s grandmother was not happy about Alice’s new living arrangement. She thought that the new home was dangerous. Previously, the mother had been investigated by the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) for abuse. But the agency never found any actual evidence. Nonetheless, the grandmother believed Alice was being physically and emotionally abused in the new household. She tried to get Alice back. Eventually, the grandmother decided to sue.

At first, the judge gave custody to the grandmother. But this arrangement was only temporary. The mother passed a full psychological exam. A court-appointed doctor concluded she was a fit mother. The judge decided that it was time to reunite mother and daughter.

On appeal, the grandmother tried a different argument. She said she deserved custody of Alice because she was the child’s “psychological parent.” A psychological parent is one who is not related by blood or adoption, but plays the role of an actual parent.

However, the court rejected the grandmother’s argument. The court ruled that becoming a psychological parent first requires the approval of the actual parent. Furthermore, a mother has a constitutional right to raise her child. This right is not surrendered simply because another family member helps out.

You’ve got to wonder what poor little Alice thought of all this. With so many people claiming to be her “parent,” she was probably pretty confused. Ask any teenager. Two parents are MORE than enough. 

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