Divorce can be a fraught and emotionally devastating time for any family. It can be especially distressing for grandparents, who may face an even greater degree of uncertainty. It’s natural to hope that your child is the one who maintains physical and legal custody of the grandchildren, but this is not always the case. In the State of Arizona, there is no automatic right of grandparents to receive visitation rights to their grandchildren. As a result, grandparents must act with prudence and calm during the divorce process to make sure that this sacred relationship can go on unimpeded.
Maintain a Relationship
First and foremost, it’s vital that you maintain a positive relationship with your grandchildren during the divorce process. Divorce is especially disruptive to children, and a positive, normal relationship with their grandparents can serve as a saving grace during this exceptionally difficult period. The steady presence of their grandparents can help to ameliorate the negative emotional effects of divorce.
It’s important that you remain neutral during the process. Nothing is more destructive to the prospects of a future relationship with your grandchildren than the perception from either parent that you’re “taking sides” in the conflict. Do not interfere in the process, and do not try to pry information out of your grandchildren about how the proceedings may be progressing.
Do Not Fight With the Child’s Parent
Like it or not, the other parent will remain a part of your grandchild’s life moving forward, barring a termination of parental rights on the part of the court for severe neglect or abuse. As such, it’s likely that you’re going to have to see and interact with them on some level during major milestones in your grandchild’s life. It’s important to remain cordial and respectful during these events, even if you can’t stand the child’s other parents.
When it comes to major holidays and events, divorce can certainly complicate matters. It may not be possible moving forward for you to spend every single birthday or holiday with your grandchildren on the actual day it happens. By showing grace and flexibility, however, you increase the chances that you’ll get more of these special events on the day that they take place than you may have otherwise.
Understand Visitation Law
The State of Arizona has no automatic provisions that force a child’s legal or custodial guardian to allow grandparents to have visitation. The position of the State is that the child’s parent is the ultimate arbiter of who they allow within the child’s life, and Arizona generally keeps intrusions upon this right to a minimum.
However, that doesn’t mean that grandparents are totally without options. If you reside in Arizona and are being prevented from seeing your grandchildren, you do have the right to ask the court for “reasonable visitation” under AZ Stat. Ann. §25-409. If you reside in a different state (and the grandchildren reside in Arizona), you are entitled to request “grandparent visitation” under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.
Grandparents are held to a much higher standard in these cases than parents. If you need to file such a request with the court, we here at Simon Law Group can help. Contact us today for a consultation!