While a woman discussed adopting a child and being parents with her same-sex partner, the agreement did not survive their breakup, a judge ruled.
In one of the first applications of a 2016 ruling that broadened the definition of “parenthood” in New York to encompass more unmarried, same-sex partners, acting Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Frank Nervo denied Kelly Gunn’s attempt to assert joint custody over the child her ex-partner, Circe Hamilton, adopted in 2011.
Nervo wrote in Gunn v. Hamilton, 309154/2016, that despite the liberalization of adoption and visitation rules, an unmarried person must show participation in an “unabated plan” to adopt a child for parental rights to survive a break-up.
While Gunn supplied financial support, child care help and other assistance to Hamilton after the adoption, Gunn’s actions were “the acts of a friend dear to both the child and his mother” rather than a fully participating parent, Nervo wrote in his April 11 decision.
“She has failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that she has standing as a parent under Domestic Relations Law Section 70,” he wrote.
Gunn’s attorney, Nancy Chemtob, a partner at Chemtob Moss & Forman, said she was granted an interim stay Thursday by Appellate Division, First Department Justice Rolando Acosta that retains Gunn’s twice-a-week visitation schedule with the adopted boy and also continues a hold on Hamilton’s passport Gunn had won earlier to keep Hamilton in this country pending an appeal of the decision. Hamilton is a resident of England.
Bonnie Rabin, a partner at Cohen Rabin Stein Schumann, represented Hamilton.
The ruling by the Court of Appeals that liberalized New York’s visitation and adoption rules came in Matter of Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth A. C.C., and Matter of Estrellita A. v. Jennifer D., 28 NY3d 192 (2016). It was written by Judge Sheila Abdus-Saalam, whose body was found in the Hudson River last week.