11 Aug 23

What are extraordinary circumstances in New York child custody and guardianship cases?

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Last Updated on: 20th August 2023, 01:40 am

Extraordinary Circumstances in New York Child Custody and Guardianship Cases

When determining the custody or guardianship of a child, the court looks at a variety of factors. In the end, the aim is to do what is in the best long term interest of the children involved. If at all possible, some type of family will gain custody of the children, as this is deemed to be the best way to go. However, there are extraordinary circumstances in New York that will be considered in New York child custody and guardianship cases. Continue reading to learn more about this and how it may impact your own case, or that of someone close to you.

The Manner in Which Extraordinary Circumstances Can Influence Child Custody in New York

To begin, consider that there are cases in New York where parents or guardians have been known to repeatedly neglect their children. They may also be engaged in a pattern of domestic violence, use illegal drugs or substances, and be involved in other activities that can be deemed harmful to the upbringing of a child. In these cases, the court may determine that there are extraordinary circumstances involved when making their eventual decision over custody or guardianship. In cases of abandonment, the court can also determine that a parent or guardian has not had sufficient involvement in the child’s life to this point to warrant custody.

What About Non-Parents?

If a person who is not the child’s natural parent want to have custody over the child, then he or she much demonstrate that the biological parents are unfit to take custody based on extraordinary circumstances. The non-parent who is seeking custody must demonstrate that they have really bonded with the children at the center of the custody support. They must also have the financial means and the emotional stability necessary to raise children. It is also important that the court notice the children forming a psychological bond with the proposed custodian as well, as this will help gain a favorable outcome when the decision is handed down.

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What Does Standing Entail?

In a custody hearing, standing is important. The court will first seek to ascertain whether or not extraordinary circumstances even exist. If the answer is in the affirmative, this may give the non-parent the incentive that they need to file a petition to gain custody or legal guardianship over the children. This will be almost solely based on the existing condition of the chid’s home life. Once standing is established, the non-parent can take the case to court and fight for custody. Without this standing, it would be difficult to even get a hearing scheduled.

Considering What is in the Best Interest of the Child

In any child custody hearing, the court will seek to determine what is in the best interest of the child. In most cases, this will be based on legal standing and precedent. New York considers it to be a right to be a parent of a natural born child, but this is not taken to be an absolute right. In other words, the right to be a parent can be abandoned if extraordinary circumstances are determined to be present by the court. When this is proven, the best interests of the child will be paramount when determining who shall be granted custody or guardianship. There are a number of different factors that are considered in making this determination.


If a parent has been absent from the home for quite some time, he or she may have left the child with another responsible non-parent. If that is case, the court may consider stability to be a determining factor when awarded custody. If it would be detrimental to the emotional stability of the child to be uprooted from a situation that they had been in for quite some time, the natural parent could potentially lose custody.

Conditions at Home

It is not proper for a child to live in a home that is not safe or healthy. The New York court system will not allow this. If they were to determine that the home a child is living in is beyond repair, and the parent is not capable of doing anything about it, the court may be reluctant to send the child back to his or her natural parent.

Health of the Parents

The mental and physical health of the parents is important. If this health deteriorates to the point where the parent can no longer put the best interests of the child above their own, the court may decide that extraordinary circumstances exist. This is also the case if one parent has a serious illness that requires the other parent to devote almost their full attention to the care of. This will be taken into consideration in a custody hearing.

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Abuse of a Spouse

If spousal abuse is found to be taking place in a home, the parent found to be guilty of the abuse will not be likely to receive custody. This is another extraordinary circumstance that the courts will take into account. It is not in the child’s best interest to remain with a parent with a history of such abuse.

Custody Change Order

Custody orders can entail many different components, such as visitation and support rights for each respective parent. This can also be issued towards any non-parent who has been given some level of custody or guardianship. A custody order can be changed if the court later determines extraordinary circumstances to exist. This can result in a non-parent being granted equal rights alongside the natural parents.

If you have a question or legal concern involving custody or guardianship of a child, contact Long Island Divorce Lawyers for the professional advice that you need. Our firm has the experience that you need to be well represented within the New York court system.