Arizona Grandparents Rights
Grandparents want to maintain a role in the lives of their grandchildren. When parents divorce or separate or a parent dies and a parent relocates, grandparents might not be able to see their grandchildren. This is a traumatic and heartbreaking experience for both the grandchildren and grandparents. Arizona grandparents rights are provided in family law for grandparents and great-grandparents to make a case to have regularly scheduled visits with their grandchildren to maintain a relationship and to build a bond. If the parents are married or living together and do not want the grandparents to have a relationship with the child for one reason or another, the courts consistently side with the decision of the parents and their authority to refuse contact with the child. Grandparents usually file a petition for visitation if there has been a regular relationship in the past but because of a change they are abruptly denied regular access to the child and the relationship is cut off.
Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 25-409 allows the Superior Court to allow a grandparent or great-grandparent to have regularly scheduled visitation with their grandchildren when the situation allows and it is in the child’s best interests. The Arizona law gives grandparents the right to file a petition for visitation if one parent has been missing or dead for a minimum of three months, if the child was born outside a marriage, or if the parents have been divorced at least three months. The court determines grandparent visitation requests case by case, considering the best interests of the grandchild. If a grandparent has lost his or her opportunity to visit with their grandchildren, a consultation with an Arizona family law attorney is in order. Because law allows Arizona grandparents rights for visitation, family law attorneys can assist with filing a petition for visitation.
Can Grandparents File For Guardianship Of A Grandchild In Arizona?
If a grandchild has been neglected, abused, abandoned, or orphaned, a grandparent can also file a petition for guardianship. To file for guardianship of a grandchild, the help of an Arizona family law attorney experienced with Arizona grandparents rights is very beneficial. In order to retain custody of a grandchild, the grandparents must prove the child will be provided with the basic necessities and will be in a better living environment. The court will need to be shown that there is a reason for the child to be removed from his or her home or that the grandparents as next of kin are suitable to raise the child after the death of his or her parents. The court wants the child to be in a comfortable living environment with people they are familiar with and that makes them feel comfortable, so grandparents often get custody of grandchildren in such situations.
According to Arizona law in Statute 25-409, a grandparent must show that all these things are true in order to be granted custody of a grandchild:
- The person requesting custody by petition is standing in loco parentis to the grandchild.
- It is damaging to the child to remain in custody of his or her parents or to be returned to his or her parents.
- A court within jurisdiction did not approve or enter into an order regarding the child’s custody within the last year prior to the petition is filed pursuant to the statute, unless there is reasonable evidence and cause to think that the child’s current living situation is dangerous to his or her emotional, mental, physical, or moral health.
- Also, one of the following must apply – one of the legal parents is deceased, the child’s parents are not married to one other at the time of the filing of the petition, or there is a pending divorce proceeding or there is a petition for a legal separation of the legal parents of the child in question when the petition for custody is filed.
While Arizona law allows that there is a presumption that a child living with his or her legal parent is the child’s best interest, the presumption can be overcome if it can be clearly demonstrated by the grandparents that the child living with his or her parents is not the best option.