Same-Sex Couples And Legal Rights To Co-Parent Or Seek Custody

There was a time in New York when parents or would-be parents in same-sex domestic partnerships had a difficult time, legally speaking. One member of such a couple was not usually allowed to be designated as a parent even though they were functionally dedicated to that type of role in the family. But in recent years, barriers to adoption and custody have been overcome and same-sex couples have opportunities to co-parent.

At The Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, PLLC, clients have long had the opportunity to work closely with a family law attorney who champions the rights of all parents, including those in same-sex couples. Kamelia “Mia” Poppe, Esq., thrives on empowering clients to pursue their goals in family life with confidence and all available legal rights activated. Custody or visitation for either parent is also possible in case of separation or divorce.

Clearing Up Doubts About Parenthood Opportunities For Same-Sex Couples

Keep in mind that in all custody or adoption cases, family courts in New York look out for the best interests of the child or children involved.

Countless same-sex couples have the same capacity to raise children together in a collaborative manner that heterosexual couples do. Even if a same-sex couple separates, the nonbiological parent now has a chance to pursue a share of parenting time.

It is always important to consult an attorney who is familiar with all available options for nonbiological parents – including spouses in same-sex couples” – who are in a parental role. Mia is experienced and enthusiastically willing to advise clients in same-sex couples on how to assert their legal standing to be full-fledged parents.

Background About Relatively Recent Changes In Parenthood Opportunities In New York

Since the issuance of a landmark 2016 decision that came from the New York State Court of Appeals, there have been more ways for people in the LGBTQ+ community to form and grow families.

Specifically, the New York State Court of Appeals, the highest court in New York, made a great leap regarding the definition of “parents” between the decision in the Matter of Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth A.C.C., 1991, and the decision in the Matter of Estrellita A. v. Jennifer D., 92, 2016 NY Slip Op 05903.

New Options For Parenthood

The newer of those two court cases opened doors for an “intended second parent,” who:

(1) [Did] not share genetics with the children
(2) [Had] not adopted the children
(3) [Was] not married to the other parent

For one thing, the advent of same-sex marriage in New York removed the third criterion as a barrier for many LGBTQ+ individuals. The outcome of the appellate case also spelled out a new definition of “parent.” Married or cohabitating same-sex couples would thereafter have substantially more rights under the newly established case law issued by the Court of Appeals.

This was wonderful news and still is, as the number of same-sex couple families in New York has continued to grow. Many of the children within such families are related to only one partner by birth or adoption. (See Gary J. Gates & Abigail M. Cooke, The Williams Institute, New York Census Snapshot: 2010 at 1-3). Now the same-sex partner can be designated a parent, too.

The Way Things Were Before Same-Sex Couples Gained The Chance To Co-Parent

Prior outdated law from 1991 had created a rule that in an unmarried couple, a partner without a biological or adoptive relation to a child was not that child’s “parent” for purposes of seeking custody or visitation, even though they had established a parental-like relationship with the child. (See Matter of Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth A.C.C., quoting Matter of Alison D. v. Virginia M., 77 NY2d 651 [1991]).

Today, thanks to that appellate decision, the “intended second parent” in a same-sex couple may affirm their standing to co-parent and, if necessary, seek visitation and custody by proving two things:

(1) The parties agreed to conceive a child.
(2) The parties agreed to raise the child together.

The court case did not create a strict rule by which to determine a would-be parent’s standing. This left the door open for other creative legal arguments to allow nonbiological and nonadoptive same-sex parents access to custody and visitation of the children that they help raise.

Contact An Experienced Custody Attorney At Poppe & Associates

If you are looking for a knowledgeable lawyer for your family law matter as one partner in a same-sex couple, you are welcome to contact Poppe & Associates today. Call 646-665-3903 or send an email inquiry to schedule your complimentary initial consultation.