<![CDATA[Even though Arizona has a high population of grandparents, it is not yet a leader in the rights of grandparents. For instance, it is still one of the states that exempts grandparents from visitation suits when involving intact family units, meaning unless parents are divorced, grandparents have no rights. However, what some grandparents in Arizona have failed to realize is that they can petition the court to create a right to visit their grandchildren, enforceable by law. In some cases, a grandparent can claim visitation left to a parent who can no longer, or does no longer, use their awarded visitation. There are even situations in which grandparents can petition for custody of their grandchildren. We will cover this a bit, as well as going over how the state determines “the best interest” of a child. Circumstances The circumstances in which the Arizona Superior Court can grant visitation rights to grandparents are pretty cut and dry. First, the parents of the child(ren) must have been divorced for a minimum of three months or were never married, or a parent of the child(ren) has been missing for a minimum of three months, or is deceased. In order to petition for custody, the circumstances are not quite as cut and dry. The considerations that must be met are:
- The grandparent must be acting as parent, providing all or most of the care for a child.
- It must be detrimental to the child for him/her to stay in the custody of their parent.
- There must not have been a decision made regarding the child’s custody within the last year. (This can be waived in cases where harm could come to the child.)
- The current/past relationship between grandparent and child(ren) involved.
- What motives the grandparents may have for petitioning the court.
- What motives the parents may have for preventing visitation.
- The amount of time requested for visitations, when not a custodial case.
- Should the child maintain a relationship with the grandparents in the case of the loss of a parent.