Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Alison D. overruled! Children of same-sex couples in New York now have TWO parents

When I wrote about the New York Court of Appeals 2010 ruling in Debra H., I observed that the Court had breathed new life into the long-discredited legal status of illegitimacy.  A child born to a married (or civilly united) lesbian couple in New York had two parents; a child born to an unmarried couple had one parent.  That ends today.  The New York Court of Appeals overruled its 25-year-old opinion in Alison D. v. Virginia M. (and the portion of Debra H. that relied on it) and established the rule that the definition of "parent" for purposes of seeking custody of a child includes someone who enters into a pre-conception agreement to conceive and raise a child as co-parents.

That rule settled the cases before the court, In re Brooke S.B. and In re Estrellita A., because such pre-conception agreements existed in both those cases. But fortunately the Court did not stop there. Instead, it said that it was leaving for another day the test that might be appropriate when a biological or adoptive parent facilitates the creation of a parent-child relationship with her partner after the child's conception.

The best thing about the opinion is its definitive inclusion of unmarried couples.  The worst thing about it is a footnote that says the statute would not allow a child to have more than two parents.

My biggest regret:  That Paula Ettelbrick did not live to see this today.

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