Grandparents’ Rights in Arizona

grandparents rights blogSometimes life requires for a grandparent to step in to a grandchild’s life for their well-being. That’s why Arizona has visitation and custody laws pertaining to grandparents. When certain requirements are met, grandparents have a right to have a meaningful and positive influence in their grandchildren’s lives. Like in all family law matters, you can either represent yourself or hire an attorney to represent you in grandparent visitation and custody matters. 

Grandparent Visitation

If you are being denied time with your grandchild, you may be successful in filing for visitation rights if you meet certain requirements. In all circumstances, granting such rights must be in the best interests of the child. The parents of the child or children must have divorced at least 3 months prior to the request, or one parent has been deceased or missing for at least 3 months, or the child must have been born out of wedlock. 

The judge will analyze a number of factors when deciding whether to grant a grandparent visitation, including:

  • The amount of time the grandparent is requesting for visitation and whether that would negatively impact the child’s education and extracurricular activities
  • The motivation behind the parent denying visitation
  • The motivation behind the grandparent requesting visitation
  • The relationship between the grandparent and the grandchild
  • When one or both parents are deceased, if it is worth continuing a family relationship with extended family members. 

Grandparent Custody

Under Arizona law, there is a presumption that children should be in the custody of their parents. However, sometimes a grandparent will find themselves in the situation where they believe that it would be better for the child to be placed with them. A grandparent may be entitled to custody if they have acted “in loco parentis,” or in the parents’ shoes.

There are four requirements that must be met before a grandparent can be awarded custody.

  • The grandparent stands in the “in loco parentis” role. 
  • Remaining in the current custody of their parents would be detrimental to the child’s well-being. 
  • There have been no custody orders issued for the child in the last year, unless the child’s current environment is a serious threat to their health and welfare. 
  • One of these is met:

    • One parent has passed away
    • The child legal parents are unmarried or divorced at the time the petition is filed
    • The child’s parents’ divorce case is pending

As with all child custody actions in Arizona, the judge will always order what is in the best interests of the child. 

How to File for Grandparent Visitation or Custody in Arizona

grandparents visitation and custody rights blogIf you have decided that you would like to pursue custody or visitation of your grandchild, you will need to follow court procedures for the process. Your first step is to draft and file a petition for your request. If you hire a family law attorney to represent you in this matter, they will draft the petition for you. The petition will be filed, and then must be served on the parent(s). Depending on where you file, law enforcement officials may be available to serve the petition for you. Otherwise, you will need to hire a process server to serve the petition on the parents. 

Once the petition has been served, the parents will have the opportunity to respond to the petition. If they disagree with your request, the matter will be set for trial. Each party can present evidence and witnesses to prove why grandparent custody or visitation would be in the best interest of the child. The grandparent will be responsible for proving that all of the requirements discussed above are met. 

Get Representation for Arizona Grandparents’ Rights

It is a common misconception that everyone in the United States has a right to a court-appointed attorney. However, this only applies in criminal matters, and not in family law cases. Whether you’re a concerned grandparent who needs to step into the life of your grandchild, or you’re a competent parent trying to avoid interference by a meddling grandparent, you need a skilled attorney to represent you. Any party that goes into a courtroom unrepresented while their opponent has an attorney is already at a disadvantage. Attorney representation doesn’t have to break the bank. Call our office to schedule a consultation. We can discuss your case and give you realistic expectations of how your case will play out and what we can do for you. We also offer affordable pricing and payment plan options. 

My Arizona Lawyers, PLLC

(480) 263-1699