It’s important for the growth and development of a child for the important adults in their lives to remain that way, even if (or especially if) their parents break up. This goes for grandparents and step-parents just as well as biological parents, both married and unmarried. Fortunately, Arizona family law agrees on this, and tries to make visitation decisions based on the best interests of the child, so you have a good chance of being awarded visitation rights. Here is everything you know about how to get visitation rights in Arizona.
If you are legally considered a parent of the child, you automatically have full parenting rights and responsibilities. To be legally considered the parent, you must have given birth to the child, been married to the mother when she gave birth, established paternity through legal procedures, or legally adopted the child.
Arizona family courts assume that it is in the child’s best interests to maintain relationships with both parents unless proven otherwise, so if this applies to you, chances are good that you will get equal decision making rights and parenting time as your co-parent. If you can’t come to an agreement with your co-parent, though, it’ll be up to the judge to decide, based on the case presented in court. Fortunately, because Arizona family law is focused on what is best for the child, it’s unlikely that the court will completely sever the relationship between a legal parent and the child. Even if there are reasons why you can’t have primary custody, you are likely to still have visitation rights.
Fathers Unmarried at the Time of Birth
If you are the father but weren’t married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth, you may have some additional hurdles to cross, but will ultimately still have the same parental rights as the mother. If you are not already legally recognized as the child’s parent, you will need to petition the court to establish paternity. Paternity is most easily established when the child is born if both parents willingly sign the form, but the court can order paternity testing if the mother is not cooperating. Once paternity is established, you will be able to pursue parenting and visitation rights in court.
In Arizona, even grandparents can be granted court ordered visitation. This is possible because Arizona courts make decisions in the best interests of the child, and this often includes maintaining relationships with extended family, especially after a traumatic divorce or the loss of one parent. Grandparents can pursue visitation rights in cases of divorce, if the parents weren’t married, or if one parent is missing or has passed away.
Step-Parents or Non-related Third Parties
Even step parents or non-related third parties may be granted visitation rights if they can prove they were an important part of the child’s life, and that being separated from them would be detrimental to the child’s development. Arizona family courts make decisions based on what is best for the child, so if a step-parent was a primary caregiver for a long time, or an otherwise important adult in the child’s life, it may be worth petitioning the court for visitation.
Regardless of your situation and who you are to the child, it’s important to have legal representation when pursuing visitation through the Arizona family courts. While the child best interests should be the basis of any court decision, an experienced, aggressive family law attorney can present your case in a clear and decisive manner. To schedule a consultation, contact Simon Law Group, PLLC, today.