New York Court’s Ruling Amends Definition of Parenthood

A few months ago, the New York State Court of Appeals issued a groundbreaking opinion regarding the definition of parenthood. The court’s ruling will have important consequences for parental rights regarding custody and visitation, so if you are thinking about divorcing or separating from your partner, it is important to obtain the advice of an experienced child custody attorney who can ensure that your parental rights are protected.

Current Law

According to the court’s opinion, the state’s previous understanding of a parental relationship is no longer workable in today’s society with its diverse and varied familial relationships. For example, prior to this ruling, a person had to be either an adoptive or a biological parent of a child to be eligible for custody or visitation rights. Under the new definition, however, a non-adoptive, non-biological parent has the right to seek custody or visitation of a child as long as he or she can establish through clear and convincing evidence that the couple jointly planned and explicitly agreed to conceive a child with the intention of raising it together as co-parents.

As a result of the ruling, both homosexual and heterosexual couples who conceive a child through artificial insemination and later separate will have standing to seek custody of the child. Importantly, the court’s opinion only acknowledges that a person has standing to petition a court for custody or visitation. The court makes clear that the ultimate determination of whether those parental rights should be granted rests solely with family courts who will make a decision based on the best interest of the child.

Although the court mentioned that a situation may arise where a biological or adoptive parent consented to raise a child with his or her partner after conception had already occurred, it refused to issue a ruling on whether that individual would also have standing to seek visitation and custody.

Contact an Experienced Syracuse Child Custody Attorney

Based on the court’s ruling, many more New York residents who helped parent a child will be given the opportunity to seek visitation or joint custody, so if you are separating from a partner, with whom you raised a child that is not biologically related to you, please contact Bombardo Law Office, P.C. by calling 315-488-5544 and a member of our dedicated legal team will help you set up a consultation with an experienced Syracuse family law attorney who can address your questions and concerns. 

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