The same-sex parents of a New York girl had a six-year relationship but were not married. One of the women is the child's biological mother, while her former partner adopted the little girl. The women have been embroiled in a child custody battle since the couple's breakup in 2010.
A Manhattan family court recently granted custody of the girl to the adoptive parent, ruling that the woman provided a more stable life for the child than the birth mother. The plaintiff's attorney believes the custody case may be the first in which a New York adoptive parent was favored over a lesbian or gay, biological parent.
The court felt that the biological mother was not as "responsible" for the girl's well-being as the adoptive parent. The judge's decision stated that the genetic attachment to the biological mom, a television producer, did not rank higher than the parental rights of the adoptive mother, a real estate lawyer.
The former couple volleyed back and forth in more than two dozen court appearances.
An attorney for the woman who won the custody dispute said the path a person uses to legal parenthood - through a biological connection or a court decree - doesn't matter to judges, whose first concern is a child's best interests.
Court records say the disagreement over child custody began in the summer of 2010 when the biological mother took the girl out of state without her partner's permission. A court order forced the woman to return to New York. The argument finally led to a trial.
A third-party was also involved. The child's biological father, a gay friend of the couple, apparently sided with the biological mother in an effort to lock the adoptive mom out of the child's life. The judge noted the "alienation" attempt in the final custody decision.
The ruling gives legal parents hope that family courts are working to make children's concerns a top priority, despite custody assumptions by biological parents.
Source: newsandinsight.thomsonreuters.com, "NY judge grants custody to lesbian adoptive mother," Daniel Wiessner, Oct. 1, 2012