Under current New York Law, persons with no biological or adoptive relationship with a child have no “standing” to assert child custody and visitation rights to a child, regardless of the nature and duration of their relationship. These issues arise more frequently and are especially troubling with respect to same-sex couples, where one partner, although potentially the “primary caregiver” of the child, has no standing to assert child custody and visitation rights as against a biological or adoptive parent. Hence, the real possibility exists that upon a couple’s split, the person who was primarily responsible for the care of the child, perhaps for the child’s entire life, is suddenly separated from the child, and has no “standing” to assert rights of child custody and visitation with respect to the child. Such persons are precluded from asserting such rights regardless of the effect on the child, and whether such sudden separation is in the “best interest” of the child.
Question then remains whether persons who maintain a “parent-like” relationship with a child, but have no biological or adoptive status to the child, should have standing to assert child custody and visitation rights based solely on evidence that a “substantial and long-term” relationship existed with the child, and that it would be in the child’s “best interest” to maintain that relationship.