POUGHKEEPSIE, New York. Child custody matters are complex enough when there are two parents involved. But what happens when there are three parents? In a historic ruling in New York, a judge granted custody to three parents who were once involved in a polyamorous partnership. According to Slate, the ruling is significant, because it cements New York state as a place where all types of families can thrive and enjoy equal protection under the law. In a polyamorous relationship, individuals in the relationship may have more than one partner.
In the case of the polyamorous relationship that went before New York’s courts, one of the women in the relationship was infertile, so another woman stepped up to be the biological mother for the married couple. A polyamorous relationship blossomed and the three adults raised the child, with the biological mother not being married to the father of the child, but the father of the child being married to the woman who was not the biological mother. But, the situation got complicated. The women both chose to leave the man and start an exclusive relationship. Later, the women split. All three people involved wanted to continue to enjoy a relationship with the child they helped raise.
Yet, the father alleged that his ex-wife wasn’t entitled to custody because she wasn’t the biological mother of the child. After interviews with the child, the judge found that all three parents were fit to parent the child and that it would be in the child’s best interest to maintain a relationship with all three adults. In fact, this ruling is simply an extension of earlier rulings in New York that granted custody to non-biological parents.
The case highlights some of the challenges that polyamorous couples face in receiving equal legal treatment under the law. According to Glamour, the only state in the union that allows children to have more than two legal parents is California. Yet, these laws may be failing to address some of the complexities found in modern families. 17 percent of Americans may have been involved in non-monogamous relationships at some point in their lives.
The case in New York is complex, but it sets interesting precedent for New York. Fortunately, most custody cases are not so complicated. Even so, parents who are getting divorced or parents who live apart will need to develop a sound parenting plan. And, while most couples won’t need to consider a third party, working out a schedule that is in the best interest of the child that is also acceptable for both parents can be challenging.
The Law Office of Danielle Fenichel are child custody lawyers in Poughkeepsie, New York. Our firm will take the time to understand your family’s unique situation and needs. Every family is different and each parenting plan will reflect this diversity. At the Law Office of Danielle Fenichel, Poughkeepsie, New York family lawyers, our firm understands the challenges and stress that can arise as families negotiate parenting time plans that work for everyone. Visit www.www.dfenichellaw.com to learn more about our law firm and how we can help you.