What is an unfit parent in Arizona? When the court determines the mother or father is unfit to parent the child, due to any number of reasons, are these sufficient reasons grandparents can file for custody of a grandchild? While grandma and grandpa may not like behaviors or lifestyles, Arizona courts require more than general conflict or disagreement in opinion to grant a grandparent’s custody petition.
Factors Arizona Investigates When Considering Custody
- Involvement in Caring for the Child. Are the parents sharing childcare duties? Are the parents making sure the child is safe, fed, clothed, and enrolled in an educational program?
- Safety. Is the child living in a dangerous home? Does either parent have a drug/alcohol problem? Is it a safe neighborhood, or is the child unnecessarily exposed to potentially hazardous situations? Are there reports of injuries stemming from domestic violence situations?
- Parent Behavior. Is either parent aggressive or violent? Does either parent have a criminal history that includes a propensity towards domestic violence?
- Friends, Not Parents. Do the parents let the child stay up all night watching adult movies? Do the parents make sure the child does their homework, or do they let them play video games all day long?
Each of these falls within the legitimate reasons grandparents can file for custody of a grandchild in Arizona. Each of these has a high burden of proof, and grandparents must establish that the presence of any of these factors is detrimental to the child’s health and safety.
The Proof Is in the Parenting
Courts in Arizona place a high burden of proof on grandparents seeking custody. The reasons grandparents can file for custody of a grandchild must be documented with verifiable evidence. This can include:
- Medical Records. Children who are victims of abuse will have at least one medical record that establishes the extent of their injuries. This can include unexplained bruises, broken bones, lacerations, etc.
- Eyewitness Testimony. Friends, neighbors, teachers, and relatives can testify that they have witnessed child abuse, drug abuse, sexual abuse, etc.
- Expert Witnesses. Expert witnesses can include the child’s psychologist or another professional who can testify that the child’s behaviors, mental health issues, etc. result from abuse within the home.
- Law Enforcement Records. Police reports, criminal convictions, etc. are evidence of a parent’s pattern of behaviors. These can support drug addiction claims, confirm sex addiction, prove violent behaviors, and other crimes that present a clear and present risk to the child’s well-being.
- Child’s Testimony. In Arizona, the child can be called upon to speak about the abuse they experience. They can also express their desire to live with their grandparents. The courts put a significant emphasis on this testimony.
Stability and Safety Are the Goal
Courts in Arizona don’t like to take custody away from natural parents. However, they will when the judge believes the child is in imminent danger or believes that prolonged exposure to abuse and other situations will negatively harm the child’s development.
Thus, when presenting the reasons grandparents want to pursue custody to the court, it is imperative to show the judge that living with the grandparents will create a stable, safe environment for them to grow up within.
Contact Simon Law Group, PLLC at (480) 462-6049, for more information about the reasons grandparents can file for child custody in Arizona. Our legal team will answer your questions and help you determine the most practical and expedient path forward.