Grandparents’ Rights to See Grandchildren

Arizona law provides grandparents certain rights to custody and visitation of grandchildren in some instances depending upon the circumstances. While the majority of the provisions pertain to when grandparents are allowed visitation rights, there are also laws regarding when a grandparent can obtain custody. When both parents are dead or considered "unfit" to raise the child, the grandparent can petition the court for custody. Cases in which a parent may be deemed unfit include those in which the parents have subjected the child to abuse or neglect.

The main provisions of the revised statute apply to the rights of grandparents to obtain court-ordered visitation with their grandchildren. Grandparents have certain visitation rights in specific instances in Arizona.

Grandparents may be allowed visitation if the parents have been divorced for three months, if one of the parents is dead or has been missing for three months, or when the child's parents were not married to each other when the child was born, and the court finds the visitation would be in the best interest of the child.

In determining whether or not visitation is in the best interest of the child, the courts look at several different factors. First, the courts consider whether the child and the individual seeking visitation had a previous relationship.

The courts also consider the motivation of the person trying to obtain visitation, and the motivation of the person trying to deny visitation. The courts will also judge the request based upon the amount of time requested for the visitation, and how that will affect or interfere with the child's current schedule.

In cases where the child's parents are both deceased, the final consideration is an evaluation of "the benefit in maintaining an extended family relationship" with the grandparents. The courts may also grant these rights to great-grandparents.

When visitation is granted, if possible it should be ordered when the child is residing with the parent, "through whom the grandparent or great-grandparent claims a right of access to the child." If a situation exists where the child will not be residing with or in the physical custody of that parent, the court shall allow the visitation to occur when that parent would have had physical custody of the child. Grandparent visitation rights end if the child is adopted, except in those cases where the parent remarries and the new spouse adopts the child.

If you have questions about a child custody or visitation issue, contact an experienced family law attorney in your area to discuss your potential options.

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