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Court Decides if Nonbiological Parent can have Visitation Rights


The petitioner in this case is Sean H. and the respondent is Leila H. The case is being heard in the Supreme Court of the State of New York in Bronx County. This case brings up an interesting situation where the husband held himself as the father of the wife’s child, even though he knew that he was not. For over four years the petitioner, Sean H. acted as the father of the child. A New York Family Lawyer said this included signing an acknowledgment of paternity and giving the child his name. Now the petitioner and respondent are estranged and the biological father of the child has reentered the respondent’s life. The question before the court is who the legal father of the child is and who has the right to pursue visitation rights with the child.

Case Background

The petitioner is seeking visitation rights with the child, T. who is the biological child of the respondent. The petitioner and respondent were married after the child was born. The child was born on the 17th of November, 1997. Almost two years after the birth the petitioner signed an acknowledgment of paternity and his name was added to the child’s birth certificate. The couple held the child out to be the biological father of the child for several years.

The petitioner and respondent started having marital issues and at some point Gary G., the biological father of the child reentered their lives. Mr. G. is now seeking an order of filtration and the respondent is seeking to have the acknowledgement of paternity made by the petitioner vacated. A New York Custody Lawyer said as. H and Mr. G both filed petitions on the 20th of March, 2003. Additionally, the respondent has filed a family offense proceeding against the petitioner alleging that he verbally harassed her over the phone on the third of December, 2003.

Case Discussion

Mr. G. has taken a paternity test to prove that he is in fact the biological father of the child. The question before the court is whether or not the petitioner as a biological stranger of the child has the right to maintain his visitation petition.

In the state of New York there are three categories of people who may seek custody or visitation with children. A Queens Divorce Lawyer said these are the parents, siblings, and grandparents of the subject child. It has been made quite clear through the Court of Appeals that a biological or legal stranger of a child has no standing under the statutes to pursue custody or visitation of a child.

Case Decision

There are cases of extraordinary circumstances that would allow a third party to assert rights over a child. However, a Queens Father’s Rights Lawyer said in this particular case the petitioner has not shown there to be any extraordinary circumstance to allow him the right to visitation. While it is not denied that he obviously loves the child and has acted as a caring father to the child in the past, the court cannot grant the petition. The visitation rights of the petitioner are denied.

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