The Family Court of the State of New York has the authority to decide cases affecting the lives of children and families. The court has a wide range of powers to fit the needs of the people who come before it.
The Family Court Act gives the Family Court power to hear certain types of cases. Each case filed is given its own identifying number, called a “docket number.”
The docket number begins with a letter that identifies the type of case filed:
Single-parent adoptions. Single persons may adopt children, although some agencies strongly prefer to place a child with a married couple. Other agencies particularly those dealing with children who might be hard to place are willing to place a child with a single person. Single-parent adoptions usually are possible in private adoptions.
As with adoptions sought by a couple, a single person who seeks to adopt a child must be approved by a social service investigator and show that appropriate arrangements have been made for care of the child.
Adoption by lesbian or gay couples. Some states-including New York and California-allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt a child. Other states do not allow such adoptions, and many states have laws that are unclear regarding whether it is permissible for two persons of the same sex to adopt a child.
When a child’s parents have died, when the parents cannot continue to provide for their child’s care or custody, or when the court terminates (ends) the parents’ right to continue having responsibility for the care and custody of their child, the child may be adopted. In an adoption, the birth parents’ rights are ended and the court gives permanent legal responsibility for the child to other persons—people who then become the child’s legal parents. Children 14 years of age or older may not be adopted without their consent.
Adoptive parents can be any of the following people: (1) an adult unmarried person; (2) a married couple; (3) two unmarried adult intimate partners; (4) an adult married person who is separated from his or her spouse under a decree or judgment of separation or a written and notarized separation agreement; or (5) an adult married person who has been living apart from his or her spouse for at least three years before the adoption case is filed.