Share

Nassau County Family Law Blog

Monday, November 14, 2016

New York’s Newly Expanded Definition of Parenthood is Put to the Test

Who might be able to seek custody of a child in New York?

In August, the New York State Court of Appeals issued a monumental ruling expanding the definition of parenthood in the state. Under New York’s new law, caretakers with neither biological nor adoptive ties now have standing to seek custody and visitation rights.  While this law is celebrated as bringing New York into line with several other states and embracing modern families that may include unrelated parent-caretakers, it has presented some challenges for courts that must now determine who exactly is the parent.

One case currently before the State Supreme Court in Manhattan is proving especially complex.  The case involves two former partners, Circe Hamilton and Kelly Gunn, who are battling over whether Ms. Gunn should be recognized as the parent of the boy they raised together.  The child involved is six years old and was adopted by Ms. Hamilton from Ethiopia.  Adoption paperwork describes Ms. Hamilton has a single woman with a boyfriend and Ms. Gunn as her roommate.  However, as both women acknowledge, this was done due to Ethiopia’s refusal to adopt to same-sex couples.

Ms. Hamilton and Ms. Gunn planned to raise the boy together, but they broke up before the adoption was complete.  Ms. Hamilton proceeded with the adoption alone.  She continued to allow Ms. Gunn to play a significant role in the child’s life, though, having her watch him regularly and keep a crib in her house.  Now, Ms. Gunn is urging she should be considered a parent to the child because he is in their lives due to the couple's mutual agreement to adopt, while Ms. Hamilton argues that she continued with the adoption alone and only allowed Ms. Gunn to be involved later on as a friend.

Standing for Custody and Visitation

As the court grapples to determine whether Ms. Gunn is indeed a parent and thus has standing to seek custody or visitation, it will focus on some questions that can guide future custody cases under the new definition of parenthood.  Factors a court should consider in weighing whether a caregiver is a parent include:

  • How formal was the relationship between the caregiver and the child?
  • What did the child believe the caretaker’s role was?
  • Did the caretaker assume the duties of a parent?
  • What impact would it have on the child if the caregiver’s relationship ended?

For assistance with even the most complex child custody matter, contact the NYC child custody lawyers at Howard B. Leff, P.C.  


Archived Posts

2017
2016
2015
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
March
February
January
2014


Family Law News
Howard B. Leff, P.C. serves clients throughout Long Island, NY including Nassau County and Suffolk County, as well as Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island and Westchester.



© 2018 Howard B. Leff, P.C | Disclaimer
1140 Franklin Ave., Suite 208, Garden City, NY 11530
| Phone: 516-739-7500

Adoption | Child Custody | Child Custody Litigation | Child and Spousal Support Litigation | Child Support | Collaborative Law | Divorce | Domestic Violence | Equitable Distribution Litigation | Family Law Overview | Family Offense Litigation | Guardianships | Matrimonial Litigation | Paternity | About Our Firm

SEO & Law Firm Web Design
By Amicus Creative Media