Blood isn’t always thicker than water. Unfortunately, there are many parents in Arizona who deny grandparents access to their grandchildren. This enforced estrangement is detrimental to the child’s development. It can also keep your grandchild in a potentially dangerous home environment. Knowing how to apply for grandparents’ rights is essential. It’s the first step towards strengthening your relationship and protecting your grandchild from harm.
Circumstances Where Grandparents Can Pursue Visitation
The Arizona Superior Court decides whether to grant grandparents’ visitation rights under Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 25-409. While the court will consider all petitions, there are limited circumstances where the court has the ability to grant a petition. These include:
- When the child’s parents are divorced for a period of time not less than three months.
- When the child’s parent(s) are deceased or are out of contact with the child for a period of three months or longer.
- Situations where the child’s parents were not legally married.
- There is a pending dissolution of marriage.
The court will always err on the side of caution to protect the child from potential harm. The primary goal of the court is to determine whether granting visitation/custody is in the child’s best interest. When reviewing an application for grandparent’s rights, the court will consider:
- The existing relationship between grandparent and child. The stronger the existing relationship, the more favorable the view of the request.
- The motives of the grandparent petitioning for visitation/custody. The type/amount of visitation the grandparent is requesting.
- The court will also consider the parent’s motives and reasons for denying visitation.
How to Apply for Grandparents’ Rights in Maricopa County
There are four steps in the process.
The first step requires grandparents to file a petition to establish grandparent visitation. The second step is to serve the parent(s) court papers. The third step can involve either responding to the petition or filing a motion to set for trial. The last step is the final order in which the court will decide whether to grant the petition for visitation.
Pursuing Child Custody for Grandparents
Arizona Statute A.R.S. 25-409 allows grandparents to pursue and obtain full custody of a grandchild in limited circumstances. All of the following conditions must be met for the court to grant custody to grandparents in Arizona:
- The individual(s) filing the petition stand in loco parentis to the child. This means they take the legal responsibility for the child in place of the child’s parents.
- It is detrimental to the child should he/she remain in the custody of either parent. For instance, if the child’s parents are drug addicts, have a history of domestic abuse, are facing incarceration, etc.
- No other applications or petitions concerning the child’s custody have been filed within the previous year. However, there is an exception to this. New petitions can be considered if there is a change in the environment, moral, physical, or emotional health of the child since the last application was submitted.
Contact Simon Law Group, PLLC at (480) 745-2450 for more information about your grandparent visitation rights or grandparent custody rights in Arizona. Craig Simon can help you obtain grandparent rights so that you can provide the care, comfort, and support your grandchildren desire.