ALBANY, NY – JUNE 3, 2016 – A compelling argument challenging the legal definition of “parent” under New York’s Domestic Relations Law was presented this week before the New York Court of Appeals. The appeal, initiated by R. Thomas Rankin of Goodell & Rankin, the attorney for the child whose same-sex parents split up, was argued by Eric Wrubel of Warshaw Burstein, LLP, appellate counsel to the attorney for the child. The appeal has the potential to change the laws regarding parental custody and visitation. A decision is expected in early fall.
More than two decades ago, the New York Court of Appeals created a “bright line” rule holding that only persons related to a child through biology or adoption had standing to seek custodial and/or visitation rights to a child, disregarding established parent-child relationships and consideration of whether it is in the best interest of the child to continue that relationship.
In the case of female same-sex couples using assisted reproductive measures, only one parent will be biologically related to their child. For male same-sex couples, no biological connection at all is likely. “Tying the definition of parenthood to biology or adoption is out of touch with the realities of modern life and no longer viable,” says Mr. Wrubel. “Legislators and jurists need to alter unjust past precedent based on outdated laws and insensitive social norms.”
Many couples, same-sex and opposite-sex, will raise children without getting married or will be financially unable to proceed with an expensive second-parent adoption. As Mr. Wrubel asserts “There is a critical need to protect all children, regardless of the marital or financial status of their parents.” Linda Genero Sklaren and Alex Goldberg, of Warshaw Burstein, LLP, were co-appellate counsel to the attorney for the child.
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