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How does the court decide child custody in New York?

In New York, child custody is granted either to one parent solely or both parents share custody of their child. The determination is based on the best interests of the child. Child custody orders are issued in the state after the courts have determined what would be the optimal conditions for the wellbeing of a child in a given situation.

The statutes in New York explicitly state that the child's safety and health are of paramount importance when it comes to deciding custody rights. The law further states that the best situation is where the child grows up with the safety and security of a normal family life in a permanent household. This would not only help the child develop normally but also thrive.

The law recognizes that the biological parents have the right to raise their own child, and that the most desirable situation is where the child grows up in the home of the biological parents which, in most cases, meets the need for a conventional family life. However, if such a situation in any way puts the child's safety, security and health under threat, then the courts will take into account these threats before deciding who should have child custody rights.

The intent of the law is to not only to protect the rights of the biological parents of a child, but also to provide the child with an opportunity to grow up in a positive environment. A nurturing, caring and positive environment can ensure that the child has enough love and encouragement to grow up into a productive and law-abiding citizen. In order to achieve this goal, the law even provides that the courts can deny birth parents all custody-related rights and order them to put the child up for adoption if that is what the situation demands.

Source: ChildWelfare.gov, "Determining the Best Interests of the Child," Accessed on Oct. 31, 2014

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