Who is a “parent” for the purposes of being able to seek custody or visitation of a child? It depends on the state. States differ in their definition of parenthood. A recent court decision made a change to how parenthood is defined, for legal purposes, here in New York.
Under the previous definition, in order to be considered a “parent” capable of requesting custody or visitation, a person had to be connected either biologically or adoptively to the child.
In a case in which New York's high court was considering a pair of custody/visitation disputes involving former unmarried same-sex couples, the court decided to expand the definition. Under this expanded definition, the ability to request custody/visitation is now open to individuals who can show that they and their former partner had agreed to conceive and raise the child in question together.
This expanded definition could have significant implications for New York unmarried couples. For one, it impacts what kinds of custody issues can arise when such couples break up. This is the case both for same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
We are living in an era of big shifts in the conception of family. The types of family relationships out there are becoming more and more diverse. Also, as the above-mentioned case shows, changes are occurring in traditional legal concepts related to family. These shifts can put an additional layer of complexity onto the already complicated nature of family law matters. In this environment, quality legal guidance can be a particularly important thing to have when family law matters come up. This includes potential custody/visitation matters.
Source: CBS New York, “New York Court Expands Definition Of Parenthood,” Alex Silverman, Aug. 30, 2016