Families come in all types and sizes. When yours is complex and a parent or guardian is in custody of a child you have a relationship with, it can be emotionally difficult. In some cases, you won’t have a say over when you get to visit the child. However, there are some specific things you can do to vouch for your important role in the child’s life and for their well-being that may give you a shot at visitation rights.
The Breakdown of Non-Parent or Third Party Visitation Rights
In the state of Arizona, the court determines who has custody of and visitation rights with the child. This includes non-parent and third party petitions. Cases like this are likely complex. If, for example, the child only has one living parent and that parent makes a case for restricting visitation rights, it can divide families tragically. It’s difficult for parents, much less non-parent family members that had an active role in the child’s life but who aren’t grandparents, such as an aunt or uncle, to gain visitation rights, but it is possible. Here’s what you should do, if as a third party with a significant role in a child’s life, you desire to try and petition for visitation rights.
Considerations for Non-Parents on Petitioning for Visitation Rights
- The first thing to remember is that petitioning for visitation rights is all about the child’s well-being. If you believe that you are a critical part of that, then you may have a legitimate case.
- You must be able to show evidence that you’ve played an active role in the child’s life and for the improvement of their well-being. For example, if you were helping positively raise the child when they were young for many years, giving this as evidence may help your case. Anything that you can provide, such as text messages and phone logs, pictures with the child showing your level of involvement, references who can vouch for your influence on the child, etc., will help. It will also improve your case if you are in loco parentis or ‘in place of a parent’ for the child. You may not be their biological parent, but if you can prove the relationship to that child where you acted as their parent in a legal manner to the court, that will strengthen your case.
- Ensure that you’re within the proper time frame. In Arizona, it is much harder to make changes to a custody case once it has been decided. This means that if you’re looking to petition for visitation rights, you should do it sooner rather than later, as once a parent has custody, it can be hard to make even simple changes to the child’s life circumstances without approval from the court and the parent with primary custody.
If you’re looking to petition for third party visitation rights, Simon Law can help you. We’ve had over 35 years of family law trial experience. For more information, contact us today.