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Caretakers and Adoptive Guardians Can Ask for Custody and Visitation Rights

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Caretakers and Adoptive Guardians Can Ask for Custody and Visitation Rights

Child Custody - Family Law

The law is always changing, especially when it comes to family law. Families come in all shapes and sizes, especially in a state as diverse as New York. We understand that family is not defined by blood relations alone. This extends to parenthood as well, as parents are not always related to the child by blood, marriage, or adoption.


On August 30, 2016, New York’s highest court decided to expand the definition of parenthood to include primary caretakers and adoptive guardians. This means that de facto parents are now able to ask for custody and visitation rights despite not having any biological or adoptive ties to the children they care for.


The Diversity of Parenthood
Families today are diverse and varied. This is especially true in a multi-cultural state like New York, which is a melting pot of different peoples and customs. Parenthood is not as clear cut as it was before – though a large majority of families still have a traditional “mother and father” model, there are other types of families too.


With the introduction of same-sex marriage in the state, parenthood is now more diverse than ever before.


A Unique Case
One example is the case of the Kelly Gunn and Circe Hamilton, who were same-sex partners before they split. When they were together, they shared legal custody over their 6-year-old child.


In this case, only Hamilton was listed on the boy’s adoption papers, which is why she wanted to move with the boy to her native UK. Gunn on the other hand, has been very involved with the child’s care, and she has provided and continues to provide both financial and emotional care for him. She does not want to be separated from the child as the child considers both of them to be his parents. She is asking the court to expand their views on the issue of standing so that she can continue to care for her son. This is a rather unique and complex case and the matter will proceed towards a hearing on the issue of custody.


The court’s decision to extend the definition of parenthood is a historic one that benefits both the de facto parents and the child and expands the issue of standing to non-biological parents and non-adoptive parents provided they can establish certain factors. This gives caretakers and guardians a chance to gain custody of the child they have bonded with.


For more information on custody and visitation rights, contact us today. Consult with a lawyer you can trust.