New York Expands Definition of ‘Parent’" /> New York Expands Definition of ‘Parent’" />
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Family Law Litigation

Standing to Seek Visitation and Custody
New York Expands Definition of ‘Parent’

In a recent case, New York's highest court held that, where it is shown by clear and convincing evidence that the parties agreed to conceive a child and to raise the child together, the non-biological, non-adoptive partner has standing, as a parent, to maintain a proceeding pursuant to Domestic Relations Law (DRL) Section 70 seeking custody and visitation.

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In the recent case of Matter of Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth A.C.C., 28 N.Y.3d 1, 61 N.E.3d 488, 39 N.Y.S.2d 89 (2016), New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, held that, where it is shown by clear and convincing evidence that the parties agreed to conceive a child and to raise the child together, the non-biological, non-adoptive partner has standing, as a parent, to maintain a proceeding pursuant to Domestic Relations Law (DRL) Section 70 seeking custody and visitation. In so holding the court, citing the overarching “best interests of the child” standard applicable in custody and visitation cases in New York State, expanded the definition of “parent” under DRL Section 70, and overruled its 25-year-old prior holding in Alison D. v. Virginia M., 77 N.Y.2d 651, 572 N.E.2d 27, 569 N.Y.S.2d 586 (1991). In Alison D., the court, citing the need to preserve the rights of biological parents to custody and control of a child, had held that a biological stranger to a child who is properly in the custody of his biological mother has no standing to seek visitation with the child pursuant to DRL Section 70.

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