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New York court rules family court lacks jurisdiction over same-sex child support

[JURIST] A New York state appeals court ruled [opinion text] that a family court does not have jurisdiction over a child support claim against a same-sex partner with no legal or biological ties to the child. In an opinion released Tuesday, the court ruled that a family court of limited jurisdiction has not been specifically authorized to entertain such claims. Although the court cited precedent that recognizes a person who neither fathered nor adopted a child as a parent under an implied contract to support the child and equitable estoppel, the court pointed out that the doctrine of equitable estoppel is only applied in such cases to adjudicate a male as a father of a child and not for determining a child's mother.

State courts have recently struggled to apply traditional family law to cases involving children of same-sex couples. In April, a New York state appeals court ruled [JURIST report] that a same-sex partner lacks standing to assert parental rights over the biological child of her partner unless she has adopted the child. In November, a Florida court ruled [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] that a ban on adopting children for same-sex couples was unconstitutional, allowing a couple to adopt two children. The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] upheld [opinion, PDF] the same Florida statute in 2005 as being rationally related to protecting the interests of children, and the US Supreme Court declined to review [Washington Post report] that decision. In November, Arkansas voters approved [JURIST report] a ballot measure [JURIST report] prohibiting gays, lesbians, and other unmarried cohabiting couples from becoming either foster or adoptive parents.

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