A bizarre custody case in New York could be the beginning of a complicated new legal era

A custody dispute involving four parents sharing one child might be the one of the strangest cases one family lawyer has ever seen.

In a recent article, The New York Post outlined the details of the case that was being handled by family attorney Susan Bender.

Bender is trying to untangle the collapse of a complicated plan where a gay male couple and a lesbian couple shared custody of a baby. (The Post did not include these parents’ names.)

One of the men in the male couple donated sperm to the female couple. The resulting baby was to be rotated between their homes on a quarter-year basis. Each couple bought identical apartments and decorated them identically, according to the Post.

Nine months in, the elaborate plan fell apart.

“We walked into the courtroom, and the judge was reading the petition. I’ll never forget the look on the judge’s face,” Bender, who is representing one of the women in the case, told the Post. “She looked up and looked at the parties, and she looked at me and said: ‘Counsel, explain.'”

The rise of surrogate parents, same-sex couples, and changing gender roles have complicated custody cases. The Post explains that while in the past, judges generally favoured women in cases, that’s becoming the case less often for opposite-sex couples, and can’t be a factor in same-sex couples.

“When [judges] have two divorcing mothers in front of them, and they can’t fall back on figuring out what they feel is right based on gender, I think that they’re going to find different solutions,” family lawyer Sari Friedman told the Post.

The parents’ biological connection with children is also becoming less important. Judges appear to be more interested in who would be the most primary caretaker, according to the Post.

“People’s lives are evolving,” Bender told the Post. “And the question becomes, how does the law actually step in and protect everybody? It’s challenging.”

NOW WATCH: Sandra Bland’s autopsy reveals no signs of struggle

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.