The longstanding law in New York was that a person had to show either a biological or adoptive relationship with the child to be legally recognized as parent.
Fairly recently, the high court of New York expanded the definition of who is a parent by deciding that a former spouse in a same-sex marriage (or even a non-marital relationship) may have the right to seek visitation and custody of children, even if they aren’t the biological or adoptive parent.
In two separate cases involving unmarried same-sex couples, the biological mothers kept the children and their ex-partners sought legal standing to see them. In one case, a lower court ruled that the ex-partner could not be recognized as a “parent” under the existing law and she therefore was no longer allowed to see the child she loved and nurtured for many years. In another similar case, the court decided that since the ex-partner had been paying child support, she was a “parent” and was therefore granted visitation with the child.
These two somewhat divergent decisions made their way through the court system. Finally, the New York State Court of Appeals recognized that the standard of who is a parent had become “unworkable” in light of society’s “increasingly varied familial relationships.”
The courts today have decided that where a partner shows by clear and convincing evidence that the parties agreed to conceive a child and to raise the child together, the non-biological, non-adoptive partner has standing to seek visitation and even custody under the law.
As you can see, this area of law is nuanced and fast evolving. Every lawyer may know the law, but you need a lawyer who knows how to make these complex laws work, for you.