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Same Sex Partner Getting Visitation Rights

Wedding rings

In a case which emanated originally from Suffolk County New York, the Appellate Division, Second Department, an appeals court, upheld a Suffolk County Family Court’s ruling that a female same sex partner had legal standing to seek parenting time with children despite the fact artificial insemination’s had not been conducted by a doctor in the State of New York and therefore did not comply with New York’s artificial insemination law. The appeals court held: “the record reflects that the parties made an informed mutual decision to conceive this subject children via artificial insemination and to raise them together, first while in a registered domestic partnership in California and, later, while legally married in that State.”

Domestic Partnerships

The women entered into a registered domestic partnership in the year 2004 in California. In 2007 the biological parent gave birth to a child through artificial insemination. The non-biological parent was listed on the child’s birth certificate as a parent. However, the non-biological parent did not adopt the child. In 2008 the parties were married in California. Thereafter, the biological parent had another child through artificial insemination. The non-biological parent was listed as a parent on the child’s birth certificate. Both children were conceived by sperm given from the same sperm donor. The artificial insemination’s were conducted at the parties’ home without a doctor being present.

Parenting Time (Visitation Rights)

The biological parent claimed that the non-biological parent lacked standing to have parenting time with the child born in 2007. She argued they were not legally married at the time. With regard to the child born in 2009, she argued the artificial insemination was not performed by a physician and therefore the non-biological parent cannot be deemed the child’s parent under New York Domestic Relations Law Section 73. This statute states a child conceived by artificial insemination is deemed the legitimate of the mother and her husband if the procedure was conducted by a physician after the written consent of both parents.

Elliot S. Schlissel

In the underlying Family Court proceeding which took place in Suffolk County, Judge Deborah Poulos found that the couple’s noncompliance with the artificial insemination statutes in both New York and California did not prevent the court from awarding the non-biological parent parenting time with the children.


The decision in this expands the rights of non-biological parents to have a relationship with their children.

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