Child Custody and Poly Parenthood

Family dynamics are changing and the legal system meets these changings with varying degrees of success. With leaps in assisted-reproduction and the embrace of non-traditional family structures courts are moving past the historic two-parent model. However, Courts still struggle to balance the rights of biological parents against the needs of the child and non-biological co-parents.


In March of this year New York was one of the first to recognize the need for adjustment in polyamorous families. A polyamorous family is one in which the biological parents live together with one, or multiple, adults in an intimate relationship, and in which all the parties are involved in child rearing.


In this case, Dawn Marano married her husband in 1994. Several years later they welcomed their female downstairs neighbor into their relationship. Because of Dawn’s infertility, the neighbor became the biological parent of a child which was raise by all three parties. When the child was a toddler, Dawn filed to divorce her husband and continued her relationship with the neighbor (and biological mother).


After her relationship terminated with the neighbor, she filed for joint custody-despite not being a biological parent. The Father opposed her request and the case went before the Supreme Court in Suffolk County, NY. The judge granted Dawn visitation in a tri-custody arrangement which is quite new in the legal world.


In her recent article on Slate.com Christina Cauterucci writes; “The victory of Dawn Marano and her child could set solid legal precedent for future custody claims of parents in queer or polyamorous families, a necessary next step in a vision of parenthood and child-rearing that extends beyond the boundaries of monogamous marriage.” Click here to visit the article on Slate.com.


Questions still remain for Poly Parents in Washington Courts looking to assert third party custody; however as experienced family law attorneys we can help guide you through any third-party custody issues.


We understand that your children are the center of your life. Having an experienced child custody lawyer can make all the difference to your process. Because we focus solely on family law, we understand the dynamics and can help guide you through your child custody case. Please contact Elise Buie Family Law Group, PLLC for a free consultation regarding your custody issues. 

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