Are you involved in a dispute over the right to visit your own granchildren? We're here to help
It can be heartbreaking when grandparents are denied access to their grandchildren. Grandparents, on the other hand, no longer have to sit helplessly on the sidelines. Under Arizona law, grandparents and great-grandparents are entitled to visitation or even custody of their grandchildren in certain circumstances.
Visitation by Grandparents
Section 25-409 of the Arizona Revised Statutes states that the Superior Court may grant a grandparent or great-grandparent reasonable visitation with a child if the judge believes that such contact would be in the child's best interests and any of the following conditions apply: (1) the child's parents have been divorced for at least three months; (2) a child's parent has died or gone missing for at least three months; or (3) the child was born out of wedlock.
The court will consider all relevant factors in determining whether grandparent visitation is in the child's best interests, including: (1) the relationship between the child and the person seeking visitation; (2) the motivation of the requesting party in seeking visitation; (3) the motivation of the person denying visitation; (4) the quantity of visitation time requested and whether it will have an adverse impact on the child's customary activities; and (5) the benefit of visitation.
If it is logistically possible and appropriate, the court will order grandparent visitation to occur when the child is scheduled to reside or spend time with the parent.
Custody for Grandparents
Grandparents may need to seek custody of their grandchildren in certain circumstances. Arizona law states that grandparents who have "walked in the shoes" of the parent may be entitled to custody. This is referred to as "in loco parentis" custody. "In loco parentis" refers to someone who has been treated as a parent by the child and has had a meaningful parental relationship with the child for a long time.
According to Arizona Statute - A.R.S 25-409, in order to obtain custody, a grandparent must demonstrate the following facts:
The person who files the petition is the child's legal guardian.
It would be extremely harmful to the child to remain or be placed in the custody of either of the child's living legal parents who wishes to retain or obtain custody.
Unless there is reason to believe the child's current environment may seriously endanger the child's physical, mental, moral, or emotional health, a court of competent jurisdiction has not entered or approved an order concerning the child's custody within one year before the person filed a petition under this section.
One of the following is true:
- One of the legal parents has passed away.
- At the time the petition is filed, the child's legal parents are not married.
- At the time the petition is filed, there is a pending proceeding for dissolution of marriage or legal separation of the legal parents.
Under Arizona law, there is a rebuttable presumption that awarding custody to a legal parent is in the best interests of the child. This is because our legislature has determined that a child's physical, psychological, and emotional needs are best served when he or she is raised by his or her parent under normal circumstances. Grandparents, on the other hand, can overcome this presumption if they show, through clear and convincing evidence, that awarding custody to a legal parent is not in the best interests of the child.
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