Arizona Grandparent Rights

Date: August 15, 2017

In Arizona, grandparents have limited rights for visitation and other actions involving their grandchildren. These rights include those for custody and adoption of your grandchildren, too.

Since Arizona laws were amended in 1983, your grandparent and great-grandparent rights include the legal right to visitation. If the child’s parent or parents do not permit or enable this visitation, you can pursue legal action under ARS §25-409. Through this law, grandparents can gain visitation rights as long as they provide for the child’s best interests. But for these rights you must prove:

  • The grandparent is the parent of the child’s non-custodial parent, after the child’s parents have been divorced for a minimum of three months
  • One of the child’s parents is missing or deceased for a minimum period of three months, with the grandparent being the parent of that missing person
  • The child’s parents never married

To meet court requirements and ensure the best outcome for your grandparent visitation case, you need a quality family law attorney licensed to practice in Arizona. The more experienced your attorney, the better they know the state’s family law and how to use that law for your visitation rights.

Five Key Considerations of the Courts in Grandparent Visitation Cases

There are five key areas of concern for the courts considered toward your grandparent visitation rights. These five considerations are:

  1. The historic relationship between the grandparent and the child
  2. Motivation of the parent(s) in denying visitation
  3. Motivation of the grandparent(s) in seeking visitation
  4. Amount of time for visitation that the grandparent seeks and the impact this will have on the child
  5. Benefit of maintaining visitation with extended family when one or both parents are deceased

When your grandchild’s parents are going through a divorce, that is the right time to petition the court for your own visitation. The same is true if the parents are going through a paternity proceeding. But if you do not do so in that timeframe, you can petition the court separately.

Adoption of Grandchildren

As a grandparent, you can also adopt your grandchild. But this adoption must meet Arizona adoption law requirements. You usually must seek temporary custody first, so you can take care of the child while going through the adoption process.

If someone else adopts the child first, your grandparent visitation rights can be terminated. Adoptive parents gain the legal rights of birth parents as part of adoption, except when step parents adopt. The court is not required to notify grandparents with visitation rights that an adoption process is underway. This means you can lose all of your visitation rights without knowing.

Arizona Custody Rights & Best Interest of the Child

Under ARS §25-415, you must meet several considerations before petitioning for custody of your grandchild. These considerations are in the best interest of the child under Arizona law. The considerations include:

  • You must stand in loco parentis to the child, meaning you act as a parent by providing the child’s care
  • Remaining in parental custody will be detrimental to the child’s best interests
  • Child custody must not have been decided within the past year, except when the child is being harmed
  • The child’s parents are going through divorce or separation, one parent is deceased or the child’s parents never married

Not being able to meet these court requirements mean the Arizona Family Court with dismiss your petition for custody.

In custody determination, your grandchild’s best interests play the biggest role in Court decisions. Determining their best interests involves examination of several points. These include the child’s:

  • Parent’s wishes
  • Own wishes
  • Relationship and interaction with parents, siblings or others significantly affecting the child’s best interests
  • Adjustment to home, school and community
  • Mental and physical health, as well as that of all involved parties

Other factors also playing a role in the Court’s custody decisions include who has provided primary care for the child, who is most likely to allow the child continued contact with other parties, who has employed coercion or caused duress in an effort to obtain custody, and whether any of the parties made false reports of child neglect or abuse to win favor in the Court.

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About the Author

Attorney James A. Abate practices Criminal Defense, DWI Defense, Business Litigation, Real Estate & Personal injury cases in Union County, New Jersey.