LeGaL Celebrates New York Court of Appeals Decision Overruling Alison D.

press release-06-02-16


August 30, 2016 - After decades of tireless advocacy by many individuals and organizations, the New York Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, expanded the concept of parental standing in a 6-0 decision for the cases of Matter of Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth A. C.C. and Matter of Estrellita A. v. Jennifer L.D.  Thankfully, the law in New York will no longer unnecessarily blind itself to the realities of LGBT families under the harmful 1991 precedent of Alison D. v. Virginia M.  Embracing the prescient Alison D. dissent of the late Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, the Court of Appeals made clear that whether a parent has a biological connection, is married, or has obtained an adoption will no longer be the exclusive factors considered by New York courts when awarding custody or visitation.  Based on the specific facts of these cases, the Court of Appeals decided for now that a pre-conception agreement between parents can be taken into account, and left for another day whether a broader test of legal parenthood will be adopted for other situations.  While this result was a definite victory for the community, there remains a role for the Legislature to address other outstanding legal hurdles for LGBT families.


The LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York (LeGaL)'s legal director Brett Figlewski was proud to join Margaret Canby and Caroline Krauss-Browne of Blank Rome LLP, Susan Sommer of Lambda Legal, R. Thomas Rankin of Goodell & Rankin, Eric I. Wrubel, Linda Genero Sklaren, and Alex R. Goldberg of Warshaw Burstein, LLP, and Andrew J. Estes and Jeffrey S. Trachtman of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP in representing the interests of the nonbiological parents and children in these cases.  Countless others participated as amici.  We also remember the late advocate Paula Ettelbrick today, the lead attorney for the nonbioligical mother in Alison D.


The full opinion can be read here.  LeGaL looks forward to educating our members and the community about this important development in the days ahead.


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