WOODBURY - Same-sex couples in New York state are getting more rights when it comes to fighting for custody and visitation rights for children.

The New York Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that gay parents can seek custody and visitation rights for their nonbiological children.

Until now, New York only recognized parents as those with an adoptive or biological tie to a child, shutting out those who otherwise may have played a key role in raising the child.

The court in its 6-0 decision said times have changed and that families formed by same-sex couples need to be protected. It also said that its definition of parent "has become unworkable when applied to increasingly varied familial relationships."

Gay rights advocates have applauded the decision, saying it expands parental rights for gay and lesbian parents.

The ruling will also apply to heterosexual unmarried couples, meaning an ex-partner can seek visitation or custody of a child created through artificial insemination if they can show that they and their former partner intended to co-parent the child.