Sunday, December 8, 2013

Beth R. v. Donna M. case brief

Beth R. v. Donna M. case brief summary
853 N.Y.S.2d 501 (2008)

Plaintiff brought a divorce action against defendant. Defendant moved for dismissal of the action on the grounds that the marriage, a same-sex marriage entered into in Canada, was void under New York Law. In her cross-motion, plaintiff asked the court to determine whether plaintiff had continuing custodial rights and support obligations for the children born immediately before and during the marriage.

Plaintiff argued that she was entitled to maintain an on-going relationship with and obligation to support the children born to defendant. Defendant argued that since the children were not adopted by plaintiff, plaintiff lacked standing to pursue any right to an ongoing relationship with them.

  • The court held that out-of-state same-sex marriages were properly recognized under New York law. 
  • Further, the facts here warranted granting plaintiff's motion to determine whether the best interests of the children warranted granting custodial rights to plaintiff. 
  • Among other things, defendant held out plaintiff to the world, and most important, to the children, as their parent. 
  • The children were given plaintiff's last name. 
  • The older child was encouraged to call plaintiff "mom" and plaintiff's relatives by familial titles. 
  • The extended families of each party were encouraged to treat plaintiff as a parent. 
  • Defendant held out plaintiff as a parent to the children's nanny, doctor, teachers, and school administrators. 
  • Defendant accepted health insurance and financial contributions from plaintiff for the benefit of the children. 
  • An additional factor was the marriage.
Defendant's motion to dismiss was denied; plaintiff's cross-motion was granted to the extent that the parties were directed to appear in court on a future date for a conference to address the custodial issues of this action.

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