Can Grandparents Get Visitation Rights After an Arizona Divorce

can grandparents get visitation rightsDivorce affects everyone in the family, not just parents and children. Grandparents will usually be dealt a heavy blog, seeing both their kids and their grandkids suffer. A divorce, however, can have additional consequences for the grandparents.

Visitation rights are usually examined in the context of parent-child relationships. Are grandparents in Arizona, however, automatically awarded visitation rights upon the finalization of the divorce?

Do Grandparents Obtain Visitation Rights Automatically?

In Arizona, there’s no legal distinction between maternal and paternal grandparents.

When it comes to visitation rights, these are once again determined on the basis of a common principle courts follow – the best interest in the child. In the overwhelming majority of cases, it is in the best interest of the child to maintain close ties to the extended family. It doesn’t really matter how custody issues are resolved between the two parents.

Keep in mind that grandparents do not obtain an automatic visitation right in the aftermath of a divorce.

Like all other interested parties, however, they can petition the court to obtain such rights. The rules for obtaining visitation rights as a grandparent are outlined in A.R.S. 25-409.

If it has been more than three months after the finalization of a divorce, Arizona grandparents can move forward with the visitation petition. The same applies to instances in which one of the parents has died or has been declared legally missing.

The court will examine the specifics of the situation – the relationship between grandparents and grandkids, the motivation behind the petition, the reasons why grandparents have previously been denied access to the children and the benefits that a child will obtain from a relationship with their grandparents.

Based on these considerations, as well as a couple of additional factors, the Arizona court will rule out whether grandparent visitations are in the best interest of a child and if they should be allowed.

Factors That Affect Grandparent Visitation Rights Negatively

In many situations, the court will find it very easy to rule out that grandparent visitations are a good thing.

There are situations, however, that call for more deliberate considerations.

Occasionally, grandparent visitation petitions may be denied. Evidence that grandparent visitations aren’t in the best interest of the child will lead to such a denial. There may also be procedural or administrative issues standing in the way.

Whenever a child is adopted within another family, grandparent visitation rights will potentially be terminated. Keep in mind that grandparents don’t have to be notified about pending adoption proceedings, which can result in the abrupt termination of visitation rights.

Grandparents and Custody Over Children

In some instances, a grandparent may petition the court to obtain custody over the child rather than visitation rights.

Several requirements need to be met for a grandparent to request custody over their grandchild. A few of the most important legal requirements include:

  • Neither of the legal parents of the child is fit to be awarded custody
  • The grandparent already has an established parental relationship with the child
  • The parents are unmarried
  • The parents are currently divorcing
  • One parent has died

When petitioning the court, grandparents will also need to inform the legal parents about the upcoming proceedings.  The relationship with the child will be scrutinized, which is why a grandparent will need to provide evidence that the child has treated them as a parent for a substantial period of time.

Legal proceedings can be expected to get complicated when individuals who aren’t the parents of a child petition to obtain custody. If you are a grandparent and you find yourself in such a situation, get in touch with an Arizona family law attorney. The nature of your petition and the supporting documentation/evidence you provide could make or break the case.

Click here for information on co-parenting holidays together.

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