This week I want to talk about 2 terrible recent decisions involving lesbian moms – and some information about how lesbian families can and should protect themselves. The first was a case in Oklahoma – Kris and Rebekah decided to have a baby together. They searched for a known donor and found Harlan, who lived in Texas. Rebekah (who was to be the birth mom) and Harlan signed a donor agreement and he provided the sperm. The 2 women got … read more »
Who’s Your Mama?
Who’s your mama? Seem like a stupid question, doesn’t it? Well, wait til you take family law with me! I’ll have your head spinning. Here’s the synopsis of a case we read this week. (True story!) Dawn and Michael were married and lived out in Long Island. They tried to have kids, but had difficulty conceiving. A few years later, they became a throuple with Audria, who moved in with them. The 3 of them planned and to have and … read more »
Are You My Mother?
I have always been fascinated by families. They drive us crazy and they keep us sane. They are the rock upon which we stand, and can be the bane of our existence. We all know what it is like to be somebody’s child, and many of us know what it is like to be somebody’s parent or somebody’s sibling. But each of our experiences is so particular. So different. This article takes a closer look at 2 very basic questions … read more »
Finally, A Better Definition of Family
New York’s highest court, the New York State Court of Appeals, made a long overdue and unquestionably important decision last month—that a de facto parent who is not a biological or adoptive parent has standing to petition for custody and visitation. This comes up in the context of same-sex relationships where one parent is related to the child biologically, where the parents have raised the children together but are not married. The issue is whether, if they break up, the … read more »
How History is Written
I just read a beautiful tribute to the late Hon. Judith Kaye (1938-2016), who was the much respected and beloved Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals of the State of New York. The tribute was written by Roberta Kaplan, Esq., who represented Edith Windsor in US vs Windsor, the landmark Supreme Court case that, overnight, extended equal rights of gay and lesbian Americans in unprecedented ways. Ms. Kaplan recently remembered Judge Kaye at a dinner for Le-Gal, the LGBT … read more »
Same Sex Married Couples Still Need Second Parent Adoptions
I have written about this before, and it is still true – same sex couples still need second parent adoptions even though they are legally married. New York’s Appellate Division Second Department made this clear their May 2015 decision, Matter of Paczkowski. The case is about a lesbian couple who was married and had a child together during the marriage. The non-biological mom had not adopted their child. The couple later broke up, and she filed for joint custody, arguing … read more »
It’s been a busy week – I was on a panel at CUNY School of Law about Contemplative Lawyering and alternatives to litigating on Monday. On Wednesday I was a panel at Cardozo Law School about mediating with non-traditional families. And today I published an article on FamilyAffaires.com about why second parent adoptions are still needed even when the same-sex parents are married. They say that if you love what you do, it never feels like work. So true. I’m … read more »
Second Parent Adoptions are Still Necessary!
The NY Times’ Motherlode blog ran an article today about 2nd parent adoptions, and Judge Lopez Torres’ recent decision to deny a petition for such when the adoptive parents were married. Here is my comment (which they also published): I am an attorney who does second parent adoptions. I have completed and filed several such adoptions in New York State since Judge Lopez Torres’ decision was published – parallel courts recognize them as still being necessary. While Judge Lopez Torres’ … read more »
Can a child have 3 parents?
We all know that a child can only have 2 biological parents – a man and a woman. But we also know that biology is only a small part of the story. Every child is connected to more adults – as they say, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Many children are actually being raised by more than 2 parents — step parents, grandparents, friends and partners can play an important role in the financial and emotional … read more »
DOMA and the States
There is no doubt that the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was historic, and will forever change the lives for millions of same-sex couples and their families. There are over 1,100 federal benefits now available to married same sex couples that were previously only available to married heterosexual couples. But DOMA is not entirely deceased. There were 2 parts to DOMA – the part that remains intact is the part that says that states … read more »