When you think of child custody battles, they’re typically divided between two parties: the mom’s side and the dad’s side. For decades, only the biological parents of a child could be granted custody—and if you were not a biological parent, you had to prove that one or both biological parents were unfit in order to gain custody.
Recently, a judge in Suffolk County made a game-changing ruling that could potentially affect the outcome of child custody cases in the future. The judge granted tri-custody of a child that had parents in a polyamorous relationship.
A Very Unique Case
A married couple in Long Island decided to add a third person to their relationship. The new woman moved in with them, and three years into their polyamorous relationship, the husband and wife decided they wanted a child. When the wife could not conceive it was decided that the girlfriend and the husband would conceive a child together.
Almost two years later, the couple divorced; however, the wife and girlfriend continued the relationship. The husband fought for joint custody with the girlfriend and it was granted—but the wife realized that she had no legal rights to the child. She was not his biological mother and she never legally adopted him, so if she and the girlfriend were to break up; it would be up to her ex’s discretion if she could see the child.
She took these concerns to the court, arguing that she had played a pivotal role in the child’s life since conception. The judge granted her visitation. For the first time, three parents have legal custody over a child.
What Does This Mean for Stepparents?
With this new ruling, one might ask if this will change the way courts look at stepparents. The only way stepparents have any legal rights or obligations to a child is if they adopt the child—and previously, this was only possible if one of the natural parents terminated his or her parental rights.
Many stepparents have been unable to keep the same bond with their stepchild after a divorce. This case could be used as a landmark for people in similar situations who have acted as their children’s parent even though they are not biologically theirs.
If you are interested in learning more about complicated custody arrangements, give the Law Offices of Paul A. Boronow, PC, a call at (516) 227-5353.