It sounds like you have a good case. The standard is what is in the best interest of the children. Work closely with your lawyer to obtain the best results. Good luck.
I have been a criminal attorney in New York for almost 25 years. website: Brooklynlaw.net Phone #: 718-208-6094 email: email@example.com. This answer is only for informational purposes and is not meant as legal advice.
The biological father has superior rights of custody over a non-parent, so the court can, and will , typically give the father/mother the child back even after they agreed to give up custody. The courts will do what is in the best interests of the child and that is always to be with their parent. A six year olds preference is but only one factor a court will consider when making a custody determination. It sounds like you already went to a hearing and lost. If that is the case, then your only remedy at this point is to take an appeal. It also sounds like perhaps your attorney did not put on a good case against the father. Make sure that you file your notice of appeal within 30-days after you receive the decision and order. Good Luck.
The judge cannot give custody until after a hearing on the issue. Since you have had custody for many years, that is what is called an extraordinary circumstance and the issue of custody must be decided on bests interests of the child which at this point can only be decided after a hearing. In regard to the father being able to come forward at this time to request custody, that is always a parent's right. However, if he will prevail is another issue. Work with your attorney and the child's lawyer to prove the child's best interests lie with you.
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