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Nassau County Family Law Blog

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A New York Mom Becomes First to Benefit From New Custody Laws

How might New York’s new custody laws impact me?

Recently, the New York State Court of Appeals issued an important ruling expanding the definition of a parent to include caretakers with no adoptive or biological ties.  Now, just days after the monumental ruling, a Manhattan mom became the first person to benefit.  The mom had filed a lawsuit seeking shared custody of her six-year-old son after her ex-partner attempted to move to London with the child.  With the new law in effect, the judge presiding over the case blocked the move and confiscated the child’s passports in order to conduct a hearing to determine custody.  Without the new ruling, this mom would not have had standing to seek custody of her son because she was not on the adoption papers, even though she was involved in the boy’s life since his adoption in 2011. 

Caretakers Can Now Seek Custody

The New York State Court of Appeals’ ruling could impact many people who consider themselves to be parents, but previously did not meet the state’s definition of a parent.  Under prior law, an individual without biological, marital, or adoptive ties to a child did not have standing to seek custody.  This negatively impacted many same-sex couples, who up until recently could not legally wed and often were not able to legally conceive or adopt with their partner. 

New York’s new custody law will now allow caretakers, without adoptive or biological ties, to seek custody of a child if they can present clear and convincing that they agreed to conceive or adopt the child with their partner and raise the child together. With this law in place, New York recognizes that parents come in many forms and the traditional definition of a parent as evolved.  Several other states have already come to this conclusion and have similar custody laws in place. New York is now on the same page as these states, and it is expected that many parents will benefit significantly from this important ruling.  


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