Relates to permitting two unmarried persons to adopt a child together.
Ayes (4): Montgomery, Schneiderman, Huntley, Duane
Ayes W/R (2): McDonald, Marcellino
BILL NUMBER: S1523
TITLE OF BILL : An act to amend the domestic relations law, in relation to authorizing two unmarried adults to adopt a child
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL : To allow the adoption of a child by two unmarried adults in keeping with the state's policy to ensure the best interests of a child.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS : Section 110 of domestic relations law, which governs who may adopt, is amended to permit any two unmarried adults together to adopt.
JUSTIFICATION : Current New York State law allows an adult unmarried person or an adult husband and his adult wife together to adopt a child. In Matter of Jacob and Matter of Dana the Court of Appeals asserted that the unmarried partner of a child's biological mother, whether heterosexual (Jacob) or homosexual (Dana), who is raising the child together with the child's biological parent, has standing to become the child's second parent by means of adoption. The decision of the court stated that the statute uses the word "together" simply to insure that one Spouse does not adopt a child without the other spouse's knowledge or over the other's objection. It does not preclude an unmarried person in a relationship with another unmarried person from adopting.
Despite these decisions, there are still known court cases which have ruled that New York law does not permit a joint adoption of two unmarried adults, neither of which is the biological parent. Unmarried couples seeking to have a child adopted by the second parent are finding that some courts are terminating the rights of one parent and simply granting rights to the other parent. This can be particularly problematic for couples adopting children overseas where only one parent adopts in the foreign country and the second parent seeks to adopt in New York State.
Allowing two unmarried adults together to adopt a child will also ensure the child receives the full benefits that the Court envisioned in Matter of Jacob and Matter of Dana including:
* Social security benefit in the event of a parent's death or disability;
* Life insurance benefits in the event of a parent's death;
* The right to sue for wrongful death of a parent;
* The rule to inherit under the rules of intestacy;
* Eligibility for health insurance coverage under both parents' health insurance policies;
* The right to have two parents participate in medical decisions in the event of an emergency;
* The right to receive economic support from two parents;
* The emotional security of knowing that in the event of death of parent, the other will have presumptive custody;
* The right to continue the relationships with both parent and extended families in the event of a separation; and
* The right to have both parents named on the birth certificate. PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY : 2005-06: A.8329 Referred to Judiciary
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS : None.
EFFECTIVE DATE : Immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 1523 2009-2010 Regular Sessions IN SENATE February 2, 2009 ___________Introduced by Sens. DUANE, KRUEGER -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Children and Families AN ACT to amend the domestic relations law, in relation to authorizing two unmarried adults to adopt a child THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. The first undesignated paragraph of section 110 of the domestic relations law, as amended by chapter 254 of the laws of 1991, is amended to read as follows: An adult unmarried person
[or], an adult husband and his adult wife together, OR ANY TWO UNMARRIED ADULTS TOGETHER may adopt another person. An adult married person who is living separate and apart from his or her spouse pursuant to a decree or judgment of separation or pursuant to a written agreement of separation subscribed by the parties thereto and acknowledged or proved in the form required to entitle a deed to be recorded or an adult married person who has been living separate and apart from his or her spouse for at least three years prior to commenc- ing an adoption proceeding may adopt another person; provided, however, that the person so adopted shall not be deemed the child or step-child of the non-adopting spouse for the purposes of inheritance or support rights or obligations or for any other purposes. An adult or minor husband and his adult or minor wife together may adopt a child of either of them born in or out of wedlock and an adult or minor husband or an adult or minor wife may adopt such a child of the other spouse. No person shall hereafter be adopted except in pursuance of this article, and in conformity with section three hundred seventy-three of the social services law. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD01449-02-9