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Nassau County Family Law Blog

Saturday, October 31, 2015

NY Court Attempts to Unravel Complex Custody Case

How are New York’s custody laws adapting to the ever-changing Alternative Reproduction Technology (ART) landscape?

Fortunately, advances in modern medical technology have allowed otherwise infertile couples the opportunity to bear and raise their own biological children, often with the help of a gestational carrier or via in vitro fertilization. While the law has historically lagged behind science in virtually every industry, changes in the infertility landscape have likewise resulted in one of the most confounding custody cases in recent memory – involving four separate parents, each with a viable argument for custodial rights.

Four parents, One Child

In an unbelievable parenting experiment gone awry, a member of a same-sex male couple donated his sperm to a member of a same-sex female couple, resulting in the birth of a child. The two couples rented adjacent apartments, which were decorated identically and designed to create a seamless environment for the child as it rotated from time with one couple to the other. However, within a year’s time, the arrangement collapsed, and all four individuals sought custodial rights from the New York Family Court.

The biological perspective

Biologically speaking, child has two parents. These two parents are undoubtedly listed on the child’s birth certificate and maintain the status of holding “parentage” over the child. Biological or adoptive parents with full parental rights intact typically maintain exclusive say over issues like custody and visitation. In a case like this, however, the other non-biological partners may also have a strong argument for the establishment of custodial and visitation rights.

In a statement by counsel for one of the women, “It has been my experience that biology does not [always] win out….” In this case, for instance, the court reviewed the petitions of all four parents to determine the best possible outcome for the child, notwithstanding the biological ties that bind. In the end, the court undoubtedly arranged a custody and visitation plan that not only upholds the best interests of the child, but works to maintain family unity as best as possible.

If you are experiencing a difficult family law situation, please do not hesitate to contact Howard B. Leff in New York City today: 516-739-7500.


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