If you are a same-sex couple going through a divorce with children, you may have questions about who has custody or visitation rights. The fear that you may not be able to see your children as a nonbiological parent is a real concern that many same-sex couples deal with during separation or divorce. We understand the state laws and how they affect custody agreements for same-sex couples in New York.
According to NYDailyNews, in 2016, the New York Court of Appeals changed history by overturning a rule set in place in 1991 that restricted the definition of “parent.” Under the previous ruling, custody and visitation rights belonged only to parents who had adoptive or biological ties to the child. Unfortunately, this ruling left many parents in same-sex couples heartbroken as they had no rights when it came to the children they had helped raise.
The 2016 ruling allows you to seek visitation and custody rights, even if you are a nonadoptive or nonbiological partner. You must bring evidence to the court to show that you and your former partner planned to have a child and raise him or her together. Unfortunately, this ruling does not extend to cases where you are co-parenting a child that was born before you became a couple.
The decision of each claim will vary on a case-by-case basis. While the courts recognize that the loss of a parent who helps in raising the child is damaging, what the court thinks is in the best interest of the child determines the final decision. For more information on this subject, please visit our page on same-sex family law.