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New York child custody rights, who has them?

When it comes to child custody cases, most people tend to think the mother has all the rights. Fortunately, for fathers, grandparents and even other relatives, the ability to obtain custody of a child is very much a reality. In New York, custody rights can be extended to both parents, relatives and close family friends -- depending on the circumstances.

While most people think of child custody as it pertains to divorce -- which does make up a large chunk of custody cases -- petitions for custody can be filed for a number of reasons. Those who might desire custody may include an unmarried parent wanting more access to his or her children, grandparents desiring to take over for unfit or deceased parents or other relatives or close family friends for similar circumstances. Custody rights can be extended in all of these and other situations -- if it is deemed appropriate in court.

While court preference is, generally, to keep children with either or both of their parents, those with a close connection to the children can seek custody if they deem it necessary. If an unmarried parent would like to obtain custody, the appropriate petition would need to be served to the custodial parent before the request will be considered in court. If the petitioner is a relative or close family friend, both parents would need to be notified of the intent to obtain custody.

Custody cases are often difficult and emotionally charged. Though custody rights may be extended to a number of people, a change in custody will not be granted without an intense review of the family's circumstances or before determining what will serve the best interests of the children involved. New York residents who would like to learn more about their custody rights, or who are interested in filing a petition for child custody, can seek legal counsel to address the issues specific to their situation.

Source: nycourts.gov, "NY City Family Court -- Custody & Visitation FAQs: Who May File a Petition for an Order of Custody?", Accessed on April 6, 2015

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