NEW YORK (AP) — A gay man and his longtime partner decide to become parents using a surrogate mother. Shortly after their son is born, the couple gets married. But there's a catch for this modern family: A will left by the man's wealthy father decrees that he must marry the mother for the child to collect an inheritance.
That quandary has prompted the man, Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Robert M. Mandelbaum, to contest the will in surrogate's court.
Mandelbaum has filed a petition on behalf of his now 2-year-old son, Cooper, that argues that a condition that might "induce the beneficiary to enter into a sham marriage of convenience" should be invalid.
The petition makes two further arguments: that Mandelbaum's partner could be considered the boy's "mother," and that excluding the boy from sharing in the family fortune would run counter to public policies protecting same-sex marriages and their offspring.
The petition portrays the father as being accepting of his son's lifestyle. But the will doesn't make clear why the father appeared to contradict that when it came to his estate.
An attorney for Mandelbaum declined comment on Thursday.
A proposed settlement reached by Mandelbaum and the guardians of two other grandchildren that would give equal stakes in a trust set up by the grandfather is pending court approval, though it could be a longshot.
Joshua S. Rubenstein, a Manhattan lawyer specializing in estate planning, said decedents have a right to shun possible beneficiaries — whether it's because they have two fathers or because they married someone of a different race or any other reason that might sound unreasonable or even cruel.
"We might all find that repugnant, but it's your property and you can do whatever you want with it," Rubenstein said.
Mandelbaum may have "a very strong public policy argument, but the (father's) wishes may be controlling in this case," said Laura E. Stegossi, a Philadelphia estates lawyer.
The 47-year-old Mandelbaum is the son of Frank Mandelbaum, a successful Long Island businessman who died in 2007. The father was chairman and chief executive of Intelli-Check, a Woodbury, N.Y.-based maker of software that verifies the authenticity of driver's licenses and other forms of identification.
The elder Mandelbaum's will set up a trust worth hundreds of thousands for his grandchildren and their decedents. However, the will excluded any "adopted child of Robert, if adopted while Robert is a single person, or a biological child of Robert … if Robert shall not be married to the child's mother within six months of the child's birth."
According to court documents, Mandelbaum is the biological father of Cooper, who was born in Pomona, Calif., on April, 5, 2010. The boy was conceived by using his sperm to fertilize an egg from an anonymous donor that was then implanted in the uterus of a second woman.
Mandelbaum's petition notes that a California birth certificate lists him as the "Father/Parent" and his partner, a tax lawyer, as the "Mother/Parent." The pair married in Connecticut on July 2, 2010 — within six months of Cooper's birth.
The petition argues that the disputed provision in the will was intended only to "ensure that any children born to Robert were raised in the context of a legally recognized and committed marital relationship."
Mandelbaum's father knew his son was in a committed relationship with another man, and frequently socialized and traveled with them, the papers add.
"Thus if it was the intent of the will were to require that Robert marry a woman, the will would thereby reflect an attempt to induce the breakup of an existing family," they say. "Any will provision reflecting such an intent is likewise unenforceable as against public policy.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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