Live Streaming Video Screening of Oral Argument In DEBRA H. v. JANICE R. before the New York Court of Appeals WEDNESDAY, February 17th at 2:00pm, JGH 602

The dispute in Debra H. centers on the issue of “functional parenthood” — who is a legal parent in the eyes of the law?

In the 1991 case Alison D v. Virginia M., the New York Court of Appeals found that, after separating from her partner, a lesbian woman who had helped raise their child since birth had no legal rights as parent because she had no biological or adoptive relationship with the child.  With its strikingly similar facts, Debra H. gives the Court an opportunity to reconsider Alison D. and the approach to legal parenthood in New York State.

Columbia Law School’s Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic filed an amicus brief in the case on behalf of forty-five family law scholars from every law school in New York State. The brief urged the Court to bring the State into line with the clear trend in family law by recognizing important functional parent-child relationships.


  1. The brief urged the Court to bring the State into line with the clear trend in family law by recognizing important functional parent-child relationships.

  2. The brief urged the Court to bring the State into line with the clear trend in family law by recognizing important functional parent-child relationships.

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