This is an action for custody of a three and one-half year-old child who has been residing with the maternal grandparents since the sudden death of the mother twelve days after giving birth to the child. This appeal requires us to determine the appropriate standard for deciding a custody dispute between a biological parent and a third party following the death of the custodial parent. Specifically, we must determine whether it was appropriate for the lower courts to consider the best interests of the child as the appropriate standard in awarding custody of a fit biological fathers child to the deceased mothers parents. Approximately nineteen months after the mothers tragic death, the Chancery Division, Family Part, determined that it was in the childs best interest to award custody to the maternal grandparents. In a published opinion, a divided appellate panel affirmed. 321 N.J. Super. 482 (App. Div. 1999). This appeal is before the Court as of right by reason of the dissent. We now reverse.