Under current law, if a heterosexual male has a one night stand with a woman and she becomes pregnant, the man is legally obligated to pay child support. Furthermore, in situations where a male is paying child support to a woman even when he is not the father, he cannot discontinue payments under the doctrine of “equitable estoppel“. This doctrine states that a man with no biological or adoptive connections to a child cannot stop paying child support if he has established a history of providing for the child.
In the case of H.M. v. E.T., the mother had conceived a child through artificial insemination. She had relied on her lesbian partner’s assurances that she would receive child support for the baby. When her partner backed out on her commitment to provide financial support, the mother brought the matter to court.
The Second Department of the Appellate Division (an appeals court) held that the assurances of support by a non-adoptive, non-biological adult who engages in a same sex relationship is also subject to the doctrine of equitable estoppel. Therefore, the lesbian woman would have to continue paying child support even though her relationship with her lover had ended.
New York does not grant the non-biological woman in a lesbian relationship visitation unless she formally adopts the child. Query: will the courts look differently on a lesbian partner’s request for child visitation where the partner is obligated to pay child support?