Three Parent Custody Cases

A Long Island couple, and a neighbor with whom they had a threesome, have been granted custody of their 10-year-old son to three parents in a groundbreaking ruling.

New York residents Dawn and Michael Marano, married in 1994. They had a conventional marriage, until they befriended downstairs neighbor Audria Garcia in 2001.

Garcia had been living with her boyfriend, but when they split up, she moved upstairs and “began to engage in intimate relations” with the Maranos.

No one told these three people to create this unique relationship Suffolk County Supreme Court Judge H. Patrick Leis III wrote in the ruling for the first-of-its-kind case in New York. It was agreed, before a child was conceived, that [the Maranos and Garcia] would all raise the child together as parents.

The threesome was one big happy family for 18 months, until Garcia and Dawn Marano decided to become a twosome and left Michael. They moved out and into a new home nearby in 2008.

Then Michael Marano sued Garcia for custody of their son. Dawn Marano then sued her husband for divorce. Michael Marano and Garcia agreed to joint custody, but Dawn felt left out.

As neither a biological nor adoptive mom to the boy, Garcia had no automatic legal right to custody. Although she still lives with the mother, Dawn Marano.

Dawn Marano then filed another suit “to secure custody rights because she fears that without court-ordered visitation and shared custody, her ability to remain in the child’s life would be dependent on obtaining the consent of either Audria or [Michael],” Judge Leis explained.

In awarding Dawn Marano shared custody, Leis cited a ruling by New York’s highest court that allowed non-biological or adoptive parents to seek custody of a child if they had a prior relationship with that child.

While the two women are “absolutely thrilled” with the ruling, the New York Post reports that the father, Michael Marano, intends to appeal.

I’ve written about custody issues in Florida before. In one Florida case a man reached a verbal agreement about donating sperm for his two same-sex female neighbors, who would raise their child together.

But shortly before the baby was born, the Father decided he wanted to be considered a parent and not a sperm donor. The women disagreed. Under Florida law, sperm donors have no legal rights to children.

Under the Florida judge’s decision, the two women will have sole parental rights, although the Father will be allowed to visit the child. He will not be expected to provide child support.

The New York Post article is here.