By Suzannah Weiss. Photos: Getty Images.
Although it's now legal for same-sex couples to adopt children throughout the United States, another group still lags behind when it comes to their families' legal recognition: polyamorous people. With the exception of California, states don't explicitly allow children to have more than two legal parents. But a judge in New York just set the precedent for this to change.
Suffolk County Supreme Court Judge H. Patrick Leis III has ruled that three people who were in a polyamorous relationship can all share custody of their son. This is the first such ruling in New York.
Dawn and Michael Marano were married when they got into a relationship with their neighbor, Audria Garcia. Since Dawn Marano was unable to conceive, Garcia carried the baby that all three of them parented. Dawn and Michael later divorced, but she and Garcia stayed together, leading to a complicated custody battle. Michael, who plans to appeal the ruling, claimed that Dawn was not entitled to custody because she was not one of the biological parents.
Leis cited the Brooke S.B. ruling, which states that an adoptive parent who is no longer with the biological one can be granted custody, as a precedent for the decision. He pointed out that the 10-year-old in question considered all three adults his parents—he called Dawn and Garcia “mommy with the orange truck” and “mommy with the gray truck," respectively—and concluded that the triad provided him with a "loving environment."
The boy will live with Garcia the majority of the time, while Dawn Marano has custody on Wednesday nights and three vacation weeks, and Michael Marano will spend weekends with him. Although Dawn still lives with Garcia and therefore will likely see her son for more than just Wednesdays and vacations, she wanted her custody formalized.
At least 17 percent of Americans ages 18-44 have engaged in consensual non-monogamy, so rulings like these are becoming more and more relevant. As Leis points out, the ability to provide a child with a good upbringing is not contingent upon how many parents are involved—and the law should reflect that. This is a small but important step in making sure the law recognizes how personal and diverse someone's sexuality can truly be.
This story originally appeared on Glamour.
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