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Long Island ruling reshapes parental rights

Divorce is nearly always a difficult process. Emotional separation is hard enough without considering the financial and practical consequences of breaking up a household. Although property and assets often get the bulk of legal attention during the process, nothing is more important to protect during a divorce than the welfare of children.

Child custody arrangements are very important, although they are rarely permanent. Family court and other authorities judge the best options based on the health and happiness of the child in question. Elements involve physical custody, such as where a child will live, and financial responsibility for his or her life expenses.

Physical custody, including visitation rights, just got an update from a Nassau County court. Parental rights, previously determined by a legal or biological claim to parenthood, now includes the former same-sex partners of recognized parents.

Under equitable estoppel, the family court judge wrote, courts usually find that nonbiological fathers can be deemed fathers in the best interest of the children if the children recognize the male to be their father or if the biological mother asserts as much.

This ruling follows a Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice granting "tri-custody" to a man and two women who raised a child together. New arrangements of physical custody and visitation rights help clarify possibility for parents undergoing divorce or other legal alterations to status.

An attorney is a useful guide through the complexities of divorce and child custody law. Legal professionals are familiar with developments such as this ruling, as well as the foundation of family court proceedings.

Source: New York Law Journal, "Same-Sex Ex-Partners May Assert Parental Rights Regardless of Biological Link to Child, LI Court Rules," Andrew Denney, Sep. 27, 2017

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