The law in New York is that a non-biological, non-adoptive parent does not have standing to proceed in a court for custody or parenting time. There is, however, a statute that allows grandparents standing to petition for custody and visitation under certain circumstances, which I have previously blogged about. In Debra H. v Janice R., 14 N.Y.3d 576 (N.Y. 2010), New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals reaffirmed its rule that neither parents by the doctrine of equitable estoppel or people standing “in loco-parentis” to a child has standing to seek custody and visitation or parenting time in court. The rule would be then that biological strangers that have not adopted a child cannot proceed in court in New York for custody and visitation.
Still applying this precedent, though, two different cases decided in different parts of New York, ended up with different results. In one, the same sex partner was allowed to proceed with her custody case, in the other a domestic partner was found not to have standing. The law was re-iterated in the Fourth Appellate Department, which covers part of upstate New York just this year, in 2015 in the case of Matter of Barone v Chapman-Cleland, 129 A.D.3d 1578 (2015) which stated that biology or adoption under our current statutes define what a parent is and stated that any change of this needs to come from the legislature. In that case a same sex partner to a biological parent tried unsuccessfully to proceed in court on a case of custody and visitation. The court ruled that this former partner did not have standing to proceed in court as a biological stranger that never adopted the child, despite the possibility that the person was very much like a parent to the child. Continue reading