MATTER OF ROBERT

CourtNew York Family Court
Citation196 Misc.2d 669,766 N.Y.S.2d 311
PartiesIn the Matter of the Adoption of a Child Whose First Name is ROBERT.
Decision Date28 July 2003

196 Misc.2d 669
766 N.Y.S.2d 311

In the Matter of the Adoption of a Child Whose First Name is ROBERT.

July 28, 2003.


Denise Seidelman, Yorktown Heights, for petitioners.

Legal Aid Society of Orange County, Inc., Goshen (Maria Patrizio of counsel), for biological father.

Cheryl E. Maxim, Goshen, Law Guardian.

OPINION OF THE COURT

DEBRA J. KIEDAISCH, J.

Petitioner adoptive parents move to limit the pending hearing, which is to determine whether the consent of the biological father of the adoption of his out-of-wedlock child may be dispensed with, to a hearing in which the issue will be whether the father shall be adjudged to be equitably estopped from asserting his claim to paternity of the child. Petitioners cite to various custody cases in which the biological father of a child, seeking to assert his natural parental rights as superior to those of a nonbiological parent who has assumed the role of

[196 Misc.2d 670]

father, has been estopped from asserting paternity and seeking custody/visitation with the child. Generally, those cases are based upon the court finding that the best interest of the child requires the biological father be equitably estopped from asserting paternity where the father inordinately delayed asserting paternity and a parent/child bond developed with the nonbiological father.

Adoption is "solely the creature of, and regulated by, statute law * * * and [t]he Legislature has supreme control of the subject. Consequently, because adoption is entirely statutory and is in derogation of common law, the legislative purposes and mandates must be strictly observed." (Matter of Robert Paul P., 63 NY2d 233, 237-238 [1984], quoting Matter of Eaton, 305 NY 162, 165 [1953], and Carpenter v Buffalo Gen. Elec. Co., 213 NY 101, 107 [1914]; Matter of Cook, 187 NY 253, 260 [1907]; Matter of Malpica-Orsini, 36 NY2d 568, 570 [1975]; Matter of Santacose, 271 App Div 11, 16 [1946]; 2 NY Jur 2d, Adoption § 3 [now 46 NY Jur 2d, Domestic Relations § 581 (rev)].)

In the statutes regulating adoption the Legislature did not include language establishing "equitable estoppel against the assertion of paternity" as a defense against a biological father seeking to contest the adoption whom, it is claimed, delayed or failed to assert parental commitment to the subject child. This is contrary to the statute requiring the conducting of a genetic marker or DNA tests in contested paternity proceedings in which the Legislature expressly included the right to...

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