Who usually wins child custody when a third wheel is involved?

Who usually wins child custody when a third wheel is involved?

Children of divorce understand the highs and lows of having two sets of everything. Separated parents often means two houses, two routines, and two sets of rules. Some separations end up in bitter custody battles where somebody wins, but certainly not the children -- especially when they involve a third (or fourth or tenth) wheel.

In these child custody cases involving multiple parents, one party got what they wanted while the others went home empty handed.

Two men, a surrogate mom, and a baby

Asking your sister to carry your baby seems like a harmless plan, and nothing could go wrong.
When two men, longtime companions, decided to have children, one man asked his own sister to carry the baby.

For years, the couple and the surrogate mom -- who had kids of her own -- functioned as a happy family. Then the men split up.

When the child’s biological father moved out of state, he was granted sole custody because he and his ex-partner were never married. This left his ex-partner fighting to be recognized as a “psychological parent” while the sister was completely pushed to the sidelines.

The winner: The clear winner here is the man who got sole custody, although it’s hard to imagine his ex-partner and the mother backing down easily.

The twosome that became a threesome that became a twosome

When former spouses are granted joint child custody, the child, by law, has two custodial parents. It gets a little tricky in polyamory cases, though.

New York partners Dawn and Michael Marano had been living as a monogamous couple since their marriage in 1994. In 2001, they met Andrea Garcia, their downstairs neighbor who, after breaking up with her boyfriend, shacked up with the Maranos.

When the trio decided to have a child together, Andrea had to carry the baby because Dawn was no longer able. But when the three-way hit a snag, Dawn and Andrea decided to dump Michael. Dawn filed for divorce and Michael sued to get sole custody of the child.

As the biological parents, Michael and Andrea were able to obtain joint custody, while Dawn’s parentage was left to hang in the balance. She then filed for custody herself, thinking her ex-husband and her current partner would find it in their hearts to share their little bundle of joy.

But she was wrong. Michael refused to give consent; the case went to trial; and the court, deeming it in the child’s best interest to have all three as parents, granted equal-share tri-custody of the baby.

The winner: Although biological parents Michael and Andrea were granted joint custody, Dawn wins in this scenario because in case she and Dawn break up, she wouldn’t have to fight for custody despite not being biologically related to the child. But we’re getting ahead of their story.

The love child and the spy kids

This one’s a head-scratcher, but we’ll do our best to simplify what went down.

A man (“Man”) and a woman (“Woman”), who are both married, had an affair, which resulted in a lovechild. They both wanted sole custody of their child, and that’s where the real fun begins.

For his part, Man schemed to expose Woman as an unfit parent by asking a friend’s teenage son (“Boy”) and his girlfriend (“Girl”) to befriend Woman’s teenage kids. Boy and Girl succeed in befriending Woman’s kids, and provided Man with crucial intel: Woman’s kids were discovered smoking and drinking, which shows a lack of good parenting indeed. That, or Woman is not just a regular mom but a cool mom.

Riveting stuff, and there’s a twist: Woman filed for invasion of privacy but lost because, according to the judge, the kids’ spying didn’t quite rise to the level of fraud.

The winner: In this twisted game of deception, trickery, and mud-slinging, arguably no one wins -- especially not the kids who got busted for underage drinking. But if we must choose a “winner,” we’d have to go with Woman. The judge’s decision on Woman and Man’s child custody is unknown, but it’s not difficult to imagine Woman gaining custody after Man’s treachery.

Family lawyers Buckingham, LaGrandeur & Williams have dealt with far less convoluted cases, but we’d gladly untangle the knots on your child custody case and make sure your kids emerge unscathed. Give us a call.