New Child Custody Rulings May Be Redefining the Meaning of “Parent”

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida. As family law becomes more complicated, judges are making decisions that could set precedents for how the legal role of parenthood comes to be defined. As more families take non-traditional forms, courts find themselves facing tougher child custody scenarios. For instance, take a recent case in New York where a woman had adopted her son in Ethiopia. She began to date another woman who also started an adoption process and continued to pursue it after the relationship with the adoptive mother ended. Then, just as the adoptive mother planned to move her son abroad, her ex began the fight for custody.

The court case hinged on whether the adopted child had two parents or one. According to the New Yorker, the case was filed just days after New York “expanded the definition of who counts as a parent.” The outcome of the case would significantly impact the definition of parenthood in New York. For instance, some claimed it could threaten the rights of single parents who have invited girlfriends or boyfriends into their children’s lives. The case asks—how involved does a person have to become in order to be considered a “parent?”

Parenthood comes with important legal rights. According to the HSLDA, the Supreme Court has ruled that parents have the right to make decisions for their children that others may disagree with. This includes the right to home school a child or even the right to deny grandparents access to a child. Essentially, the courts understand that parents have the right to make decisions in the best interests of their children. However, there are times where a parent’s decisions can be questioned, particularly in the case of child custody battles. When two parents disagree about how a child should be raised, courts may be empowered to make decisions in the best interests of the children. This is why if you are facing a child custody battle or are getting divorced, it may be wise to speak to an attorney.

In large part due to years of discriminatory marriage laws against same-sex couples, courts in some states began to recognize some individuals as “de-facto” parents. These are people who had lived with a child, developed a relationship with the child, and who had financially supported the child.

Yet, does ability to financially support a child, and willingness to support constitute parenthood? Judges in custody cases make decisions in the best interests of the child, but this decision-making opens the process to judicial bias. Divorcing parents or those facing a custody battle will generally have the most control over parental decision-making if they can resolve their parenting plans outside of court. Parents who take their disputes to court run the risk of facing a judge’s decision that neither parent wants. If you are getting divorced our firm can help you resolve your co-parenting disputes and fight your case in court, if needed. Visit


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