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Canadian Gay Marriage Valid, Partner to Inherit in Probate Court


The Appellate Division in New York held in February of 2011, in the matter of the Estate of H. Kenneth Ranftle, that they recognize as valid the Canadian marriage of H. Kenneth Ranftle and J. Craig Leiby. The late Kenneth Ranftle named Craig as “surviving spouse and sole distributee” in his will. The court found that the recognizing of the Canadian marriage, for purposes of extending the partner of the deceased inheritance benefits, was not in violation of New York public policy.

The court said, “the legislature’s failure to authorize same sex couples to enter into marriage in New York, or acquire recognition of validly perform out of state same sex marriages, cannot serve as an expression of public policy for the state.” The decision was unanimously made by the Appellate Division of the First Department.

Obama Administration to No Longer  Defend the Defense of Marriage Act

The decision was rendered on February 24, 2011. This was the same day that the Obama Administration in Washington formally announced that it would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act. This law defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman under federal law.

Prior Marriage in 2008

Mr. Ranftle and Mr. Leiby married in Quebec, Ontario, in June of 2008. Mr. Ranftle lived together for a period of five months after their marriage. His will left the large majority of his estate to Mr. Leiby. Mr. Leiby was also designated his executor.

Mr. Leiby submitted a probate petition in New York County Surrogates Court. In it he claimed he was the surviving spouse and only distributee of the estate. One of Mr. Ranftle’s brothers brought a proceeding to set aside the probate petition.

Same Sex Marriage Not Valid in New York

The New York State Court of Appeals has previously ruled that same sex marriages are not valid if entered into in the state of New York. However, the court does recognize marriages in foreign countries and in other states where same sex marriages are considered legal.

During his administration, Governor David Patterson instructed state agencies to consider same sex marriages entered into in foreign countries and other states where they are considered legal, to be excepted in New York State.

Mr. Ranftle’s brother had argued in the Surrogates Court, “recognizing same sex marriages is a fundamental legal claim that cannot occur in the absence of legislative authority.” His argument was not accepted by either the Surrogates Court in New York County or the Appellate Division, First Department.


New York Divorce Lawyers

For more than thirty years, the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo has been handling divorce proceedings in New York. We represent individuals in same sex relationships. We negotiate pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements. We protect both mothers’ rights and fathers’ rights. We negotiate separation agreements on behalf of our clients. We litigate issues involving orders of protection, family law, child custody, child abuse and child neglect. Call us should you need a matrimonial or family law attorney within the Metropolitan New York area. Our phone numbers are 718-350-2802, 516-561-6645 or 1-800-344-6431.

Neighborhood Change Insufficient to Modify Child Custody Terms

custody2-150x150 Lawrence C. and Antheap met based on an advertisement placed on a website for a partner to conceive a  child through artificial insemination. When the parties met, it was agreed that Antheap would be  artificially inseminated and Lawrence C. would play a role in the parenting of the perspective child. In  June of 2008, twins were born. A custody arrangement was worked out between the parties. During a  two-week period, Dad had the children with him for four evenings. Mom had the children with her for  ten evenings.

The relationship between the parties was never one of love and affection. It was strictly one of convenience, for the purpose of conceiving children. In 2007, the relationship soured.

Court Hearing Before Referee Barnett

Referee Barnett, sitting in the Family Court for New York County, rendered a decision after a hearing that the father should be the primary residential custodial parent of the children after they reach the age of four. In the decision of Referree Barnett, Dad was given final decision-making authority on all significant issues, including, without limitation, education, medical care and extra curricular activities. Mom appealed.

Appellate Division First Department Ruling

The Appellate Division of the First Department, located in New York County, overturned the decision of Court Referree Elizabeth Barnett. The Appellate Division found “none of the grounds upon which the Referree ordered a future change in custody are so compelling as to warrant the attended disruption of the children’s lives.” The court went on to state, “speculation (based solely on lay testimony) that the children, by reason of their non-traditional family background, would more easily fit in with other children in the father’s west village neighborhood than in the mother’s predominately Greek American neighborhood in Queens “was not a reasonable basis for making a custody decision concerning the best interest of the children.”

The Appellate Division also stated that, while each parent would do well to adopt a more cooperative attitude towards the other, the past problems with the mother’s conduct are not so great as to warrant displacing her as the primary custodial parent.

custody11-150x1501New York and Long Island Fathers’ Rights Attorneys

Are you a father with a legal problem? If so, we are the attorneys for you. We have more than thirty years of experience representing fathers in all types of father’s rights cases. We litigate divorce proceedings, child custody proceedings, child visitation proceedings, child support, spousal maintenance (alimony), as well as child abuse and child neglect proceedings in the Supreme Courts and Family Courts throughout the metropolitan New York area.

We develop defenses for fathers who are removed from their residences based on orders of protection. We litigate the equitable distribution of property of the parties in divorce cases. When the situation is appropriate, we negotiate separation agreements for our clients.

When mothers seek to leave the metropolitan New York area for the purposes of relocating, we litigate relocation problems on behalf of fathers.

If you are a father and you have problems involving your children, we are the law firm for you. We will give you a free consultation. We will analyze your problems and provide you with a detailed presentation as to how we can help you resolve these problems. Call us for a free consultation at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 – Father’s Rights Website.

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