What Visitation Rights are Arizona Grandparents Entitled to?
There are places where the rights of grandparents aren’t thoroughly protected via a legal framework. Arizona isn’t one of them. Grandparents in the state have visitation rights under appropriate circumstances. Depending on the situation, some grandparents may even be granted custody over their grandchildren. Let’s see what visitation rights are Arizona grandparents entitled to.
Grandparents will be given the opportunity to request visitation rights under the following circumstances:
- The parents of the children have been divorced for three months or a longer period of time
- One of the legal parents is either deceased or has been missing for a period of at least three months
- The child’s parents aren’t married to each other
- Divorce proceedings are currently ongoing
It will be up to court to determine whether visitation rights should be granted to the grandparent on the basis of the child’s best interest. To make the determination, the court will need to examine various factors. Some of these considerations include:
- The relationship between the grandparent and the grandchild
- The effect that visitations will have on the child’s customary activities
- The motivation for requesting visitation rights
- The motivation for the denial of visitation rights to the grandparent
- The benefits to the child that will be experienced through a close relationship with extended family members (this applies to situation in which the parent has been deceased or missing for a long period of time)
Great-grandparents are given the same rights as grandparents under Arizona family law.
Intact Families and Grandparent Visitation Rights
In Arizona, intact families are exempt from having to deal with requests for grandparent visitations. As already mentioned in the previous section, there are two conditions that enable grandparents to pursue such legal actions – an ongoing divorce or a separation that has taken place at least three months ago.
It’s also important to keep in mind that if a child is born to unmarried parents who decide to get married later on, the family is considered intact. Grandparents will be denied a chance to seek visitation rights in such situations.
Grandparent Custody Rights
There are situations in which grandparents may decide to pursue physical and legal custody of their grandchildren. Under Arizona law, a grandparent who has been acting as the primary caregiver of a child may be granted custody under the in loco parentis (in place of the parent) clause.
The provisions for grandparents interested in obtaining custody are outlined in Arizona Statute sections 25-409. In order to obtain the custody, a grandparent will have to stand in loco parentis to the child and it will also have to be determined by court that placing the child with someone else is going to be detrimental to their wellbeing.
Grandparents can also pursue custody whenever one of the parents is dead, the parents aren’t married to each other or there are pending proceedings for marriage dissolution. Under Arizona law, the rebuttable presumption is that it’s to the child’s best interest to be placed with one of their biological parents. If grandparents can provide evidence that this isn’t the case, however, they may be given a chance to file for custody.
Examples of Visitation Rights are Arizona Grandparents Entitled To
Dodge v. Graville is probably the most popular Arizona court case pertaining to a grandparent seeking visitation rights. The maternal grandparents requested visitation rights with their two granddaughters after the death of the mother. The court granted such visitations two times per month.
The father, however, wasn’t content with the decision and appealed. During the appeal proceedings, the court determined that the previously granted visitation time was not excessive or unconstitutional.
Eventually, the father was found to be in contempt for not following through with the visitation agreement. Thus, a supervisor was appointed – another decision that the father decided to challenge in court. Court upheld the legality of the appointment for the purpose of ensuring the visitation rights of the grandparents.
Finally, court upheld the original decision and gave the grandparents visitation rights. A few other portions of the previous agreement were turned down. These focused on the father encouraging communication between the children and their grandparents, considering the grandparents as alternative caregivers and discussing custody issues with the children. Justice is ensured where visitation rights are Arizona grandparents entitled to.