As the definition of a modern family continues to evolve, new laws and accommodations are needed to provide for children's well-being. A recent child custody ruling out of New York has the potential to shift the definition of "parent" for children in Florida and other states. In the first ruling of its kind in New York, a judge granted a polyamorous family - three adults - shared custody of their son.
This particular family unit included two women and a man. The man and one of the women were married to each other. The wife was unable to conceive, so the other woman got pregnant with their child, and all three raised the boy. Then, the married couple got divorced, and the two women chose to stay together in a romantic relationship. This, unsurprisingly, led to a challenging child custody battle, in which the woman who was not the child's biological mother was eliminated from the custody proceedings.
The judge in this case decided, however, that the non-biological mother deserved custody, based on precedent that was related to adoptive parents in the state of New York. Adoptive parents who divorce are permitted to keep child custody privileges, even though they may not be biologically related to the child. In this case, all three parents will share formal custody rights.
Why is this ruling so important to Floridians? Nearly 20 percent of American adults under the age of 44 say they have been involved in "consensual non-monogamy," so this family situation is likely to become more common. Parents who have invested time, love and energy into their children deserve access to them, which means that the traditional concept of "family" may continue to evolve to support the best interests of the child.
Source: Glamour, "A New York Judge Just Granted Child Custody to a Polyamorous Family," Suzannah Weiss, March 13, 2017