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By: Sampair Group

Can grandparents petition for custody or visitation rights?

Phoenix family law attorney

As a Grandparent in Arizona, Do I Have Any Legal Visitation Rights?

The legally simple answer is yes. As an Arizona grandparent, you can have limited visitation rights to see your grandchildren regularly.

Most grandparents are dependable and loving caregivers and babysitters to their grandchildren and often worry about them if they are in a possibly unsafe home environment. Many grandparents also provide financial and emotional support to their grandchildren’s families or, in some households, have one or more grandchildren living with them.

If their grandchildren’s home lives are unstable, grandparents may want to obtain permanent legal orders to stabilize their grandchildren’s lives. Arizona laws help maintain the grandparents’ relationship with the child and recognize that this almost always is in the child’s best interests.

However, if the family situation is unstable or hostile, just how far can a grandparent go to get legal visitation rights and possibly even custody of their grandchild?

Although the circumstances of these cases may differ, there is one common characteristic: The grandparents love their grandchildren and want to remain close to them, regardless of the internal family situation.

Regarding a grandparent’s visitation, Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 25-409, states that visitation rights (under specific circumstances) can be granted to a grandparent. Admittedly, though, this is not always easy, and the help, professional guidance, and knowledge of an Arizona family law firm familiar with grandparents’ rights are mandatory.

The court may grant reasonable visitation rights to the grandparent, but it must also deem that doing so is in the child’s best interests.

There are certain legal caveats, however, such as;

  • The parents must have been divorced for three months or more.
  • One of the child’s parents is deceased or missing for three months or more.
  • Or the parents are unmarried and have the child.

How Does the Arizona Court Determine Grandparent Visitation Is in the Child’s Best Interest?

Determining what’s in the child’s best interests can be challenging legally, and your dependable, thorough, and knowledgeable family lawyer, who is well-versed in these matters, will be invaluable in proving your case.

You and our skilled family lawyer must use myriad and varied factors to prove to the court that the grandparents’ visitation (or even custodial) rights are in the child’s best interests.

The court will consider these factors, which may include;

  • The overall relationship between the child and their grandparents.
  • What circumstances motivate the grandparent’s rights to seek visitation (or custody)?
  • What may be the underlying factors in the parent denying the grandparents visitation?
  • How much visitation time will the grandparents request, and how will it impact the child?

There are various benefits to maintaining the grandparents’ family relationship (if one or both parents are deceased).

It must be noted that although Arizona law grants grandparents ways to obtain visitation rights (and even, at times, custody of the child), this is not easily done under most circumstances.

Of course, the grandparents can easily prove that a parent has died or divorced, but other circumstances, such as an unsafe home environment, are far more challenging.

This legal process may become even more complicated if the remaining spouse (who may have sole custody) objects to the grandparents seeing the grandchild. This is the primary reason to have an experienced, thorough, and knowledgeable grandparents’ visitation (or child custody) law firm manage and prepare all aspects of your case and be able to prove that the grandparents’ visitation or even custody of the grandchild is, most assuredly, in the child’s best interest.

What Does “In Loco Parentis” Mean and How Does It Affect Grandparent Visitation or Custody?

Arizona statutes do apply to individuals who are not the biological parent of a child, such as a grandparent (or other third party) who seeks visitation rights and even custody of the child. As the grandparent, you may have the right to claim.”In Loco parentis.”

If the circumstances are applicable, the Arizona court may favor the grandparent (or other non-parent) if you and your professional family lawyer can prove that the bond or meaningful relationship has been developed between you and the child and has been upheld for a significant amount of time. “In Loco Parentis” can also be claimed to prove your custody or visitation rights would be in the child’s best interest.

You must note, however, that proving and claiming In Loco parentis requires a significant burden of proof and could ultimately result in your request being denied.

It is not uncommon today for a child to be loved, cared for, and even brought up by a non-parental guardian. Therefore, under Arizona, if a non-parent, such as a grandparent (or another third party), provides full-time care over a long period, they may be able to establish custody and legal guardianship (or court-sanctioned) visitation rights over the child in question.

However, it must be noted that if a grandparent or non-parent establishes legal guardianship, the Arizona court will almost always award the grandparent sole responsibility and full power to make personal decisions concerning the child’s future life and well-being. Also note that this process is always legally challenging, and an Arizona family lawyer’s professional help, guidance, and advice are mandatory.

As a Grandparent, Can I Get Custody of My Grandchild Under Arizona Law?

In Arizona, you can get custody of your grandchild as a grandparent in specific situations, but it is a trying and arduous legal process; if necessary, the tribulations are commonly worth it.

This process requires the grandparent to file a petition in the County Superior Court where the child now permanently resides. You and your skilled family lawyer must include extensive and pertinent details to support your case. Full notice must be sent to the parents or whoever has current court-ordered custody of the child.

Additionally, in singular cases, parental permission must not always be required to establish custody; this usually results in a more complex case.

For a grandparent (or other third party) to gain custody, the Arizona court must be able to wholly and thoroughly determine that the child’s wellbeing is at stake if they continue to reside and be cared for by the other parent or party.

Each case differs, but in most, the Arizona court will not grant custody unless one of the child’s legal parents is deceased, is missing for more than three months, divorced, separated, or has a divorce or annulment pending. Other considerations would be abuse in the home, child endangerment, and more.

As a Grandparent, I Wish to Fully Care for or Visit My Grandchildren; How Should I Proceed?

Although it is legal under Arizona law, establishing stable visitation or custody rights (using in loco parentis, etc.) for a grandparent can be a problematic legal journey, even if the parent or current guardian proves to be unfit.

If you’re a grandparent or third party and feel you must act as a parent or guardian for a grandchild, seeking the professional help you need to succeed is prudent.

The Glendale-based Sampair Group are family lawyers passionate and committed to providing knowledgeable and experienced professional legal guidance to grandparents who must pursue visitation or legal custody of their grandchildren. Call them today for a free consultation on your case at (623) 194-2498 and obtain the talented and helpful legal guidance you must have.