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Understanding Grandparents' Rights After an Arizona Divorce

Understanding Grandparents' Rights After an Arizona Divorce

In Arizona, grandparents have limited rights to seek visitation of their grandchildren. For many, grandparents are an important part of the stability and upbringing of children. In many cases, they are actively involved in providing for the care of their grandchildren. Additionally, in today’s tough economy, many older couples (grandparents) are better situated financially to provide for the best care for the children. Their more stable and affluent financial situation can make them the best option for providing for the basic needs and comforts necessary for the children in the situation.

The Arizona state law regarding the matter was amended by Arizona legislature in 1983. The amendment created a legal right to visitation for both grandparents and great-grandparents. According to the law, grandparents have the right to petition the court for visitation rights in cases where it would be in line with the child’s best interests so long as one of the following qualifications is true:

  • The parents of the child at hand have been divorced for a minimum of 3 months and the grandparent who wishes to petition for visitation rights is the non-custodial parent’s parent.
  • One of the child’s parents is deceased or has been missing (for a minimum of 3 months) and the grandparent petitioning for visitation rights is the parent of the child’s deceased or missing parent.
  • The parents of the child were not married.

Once one or more of the qualifications have been met, the court must determine what is in the best interests of the child. Arizona law requires that the court consider any and all factors “relevant” to the situation. The law also requires that the court consider five statutory factors:

  • The history of the relationship between the child and the grandparent petitioning for visitation.
  • The motivation behind the petition for grandparents’ rights to visitation with the child.
  • The motivation behind the parent of the child’s denial of visitation in the first place.
  • The amount of visitation the grandparent is petitioning for and how the time with the grandparent would affect the life of the child and their normal activities.
  • The potential benefit of maintaining a relationship and visitation with members of the extended family when one or both of the child’s parents are deceased.

Grandparents in Arizona who wish to have court ordered visitation with their grandchild should petition the court during the divorce or paternity proceedings, where applicable. If there are not divorce or paternity proceedings actively in progress, grandparents can simply petition the court separately regarding visitation with the child.

If you are a grandparent in Arizona wishing to discuss petitioning the court for visitation, legal decision making or even the adoption of your grandchild, please get in touch with the experienced lawyers at Arizona Family Law Attorneys.
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