child custody

How Can a Third Party Receive Child Custody in New York?

Life can take unexpected turns. Sometimes, a child who needs help enters someone’s life, and that adult feels compelled to take custody of the child.

For someone other than a parent or guardian to become a custodian, they must understand the law. With so much at stake, it's worth taking the time to learn about the requirements for third-party child custody.

Here is a broad explanation of the steps to take if you want custody over a child, but you are not their legal parent or guardian.

The Difference Between a Custodian and a Guardian in New York

A custodian is responsible for the physical custody of a child, and a guardian has legal authority to make decisions on the child’s behalf of a child.

The state typically grants custodianship to a family member or close friend, but the court typically grants guardianship.

If you want custody of a child that isn’t your own, you must know which of these two classifications is right for you. An attorney can help you untangle the complications, especially if the child already has a legal parent or guardian.

Overview of Third-Party Child Custody in New York

Becoming a third-party custodian is not easy, but it is possible.

To become a custodian, you must prove that being with you is in the child's best interests. This can involve several different factors:

  • Proving that the child's current guardians are unfit
  • You have a longstanding relationship with the child
  • Being under your care is beneficial to the child’s health and wellbeing

Arrangements Available for Third-Party Child Custody in New York

  • Adoption
  • Foster Care
  • Guardianship
    This can be awarded to a non-relative who has a close relationship with the child
  • Kinship Custody
    This allows a child's relative to become the legal guardian, providing stability and familiarity for the child.

New York’s Process for Establishing Third-Party Child Custody

  1. File a petition with the court
  2. Provide evidence that demonstrates why third-party custody is in the best interests of the child. This is a huge step with many facets, and it could take months or even years. It can involve everything from proving your worth as a custodian to revoking another’s parental rights.

The court will consider factors such as:

The child's overall wellbeing

The fitness of the biological parents

The child's relationship with the third party

The process can be emotional and challenging, but remember that the goal is to provide a stable, safe home for the child.

The Necessary Paperwork

Documents may include:

  • Petition
  • Affidavit
  • Order to show cause

This paperwork should include:

  • Relevant background information
  • The reason you are seeking custody
  • The relationship between you and the child

When working on these documents, be as detailed and specific as possible. Consult with an experienced attorney to help make sure everything is collected and filled out correctly.

Home Studies

The New York child custody process often involves a home study. Social workers conduct them.

These assessments evaluate you, the prospective caregiver. They look at the home environment you can offer such as cleanliness, safety, and suitability for children. The worker will also look into your background, finances, and anything else that is relevant to caring for a child. Their goal is to ensure that, under your care, the child's needs and best interests will be met appropriately.

Law Office of Tzvi Y. Hagler, P.C. is here to help with all your child custody concerns. Whether you are in a divorce, locked in a custody battle, or an outside party who just wants to help, we can guide you through the process. For a free consultation, contact us online or call our office at (516) 514-3868.