Most people have not heard the term “throuple” unless they followed “Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars” last season when they were introduced to a husband, wife and a girlfriend. There is also a throuple in Massachusetts awaiting the birth of their first child. While it may seem like you are truly having your cake and eating it too, what happens to the rights of the parents and the children after an unthroupling? Justice H. Patrick Leis, Supreme Court, Suffolk County, has recently had to make such a determination.
Dawn and Michael Marano of Long Island, got married in 1994 and in 2001, they invited their downstairs neighbor, Andrea Garcia, to join the relationship. Andrea moved in with them and, after learning that Dawn was infertile, the three decided to have a child together with Michael and Andrea to be the biological parents. Adding another twist, after the child, a son, was a year and a half old, Dawn and Andrea left Michael and became a twosome. Dawn and Michael divorced in 2011. Andrea and Michael have since shared custody, but the child lives with Andrea and Dawn, who are no longer romantically involved.
Dawn filed a petition for joint custody of the child because her existing relationship with her son was dependent on the goodwill and whims of Andrea and Michael; she had no legal rights to see the boy. Although Andrea supported some sort of custody relationship for Dawn with the child, Michael did not.
Two weeks ago, after trial, Judge Leis granted Dawn visitation with her son one night each week, one week of the school vacations and for two weeks in the summer. In speaking with the 10 year old boy, Justice Leis realized that the child he considered all three to be his parents. All were involved in his upbringing, and it was in his best interest to continue his relationships with all three of his parents. The boy distinguished the mommies as “mommy with the orange truck” and the other as “mommy with the gray truck”.
Justice Leis looked to the recent Court of Appeals case, Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth C.C. that we have discussed in prior issues of the newsletter. That recent case expanded the rights of unmarried, non-biological parents to share custody of their children.
The recognition of Dawn’s rights demonstrate the court’s willingness to extend the vision of parenthood and custody that will benefit parents in non-traditional relationships. As always, the best interest of the child is what is of paramount importance. Consequently, three is not considered a crowd, but more love to go around for the child.
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