Being kept away from your grandchildren can be upsetting, especially if it occurs after a traumatic event, such as your child going missing or passing away. You may be wondering if your situation could qualify you for grandparent visitation. In certain situations, the courts will step in and order that grandparents be allowed to see their grandchildren. Here are the basics you need to know about when and how to pursue grandparent visitation in Arizona.
The Difference Between Grandparent Visitation and Grandparent Custody
First of all, it’s important to understand what grandparent visitation actually is. When you seek visitation, you’re not trying to get parenting rights or custody. You’re just trying to maintain your relationship with your grandchildren in a situation where, for whatever reason, you’re being prevented from seeing them. Grandparent visitation simply enables you to see your grandchildren by way of a court order.
When Is Grandparent Visitation an Option?
The Arizona courts won’t get involved with every family squabble, but there are certain cases where you may be justified in seeking grandparent visitation. For instance, if one of the parents is dead or missing, if they have been divorced for longer than three months, or if they weren’t married when the children were born, you will be eligible to file for grandparent visitation.
Remember that just because you file for visitation, doesn’t mean you will get it. The courts always put the best interests of the child first and foremost, but as part of that, they will consider factors such as your previous relationship with the children, the parent’s or parents’ reason for refusing visitation, how much visitation you’re requesting, and the value of the child’s continued relationship with you.
How To Pursue Grandparent Visitation
Just like filing for divorce or child custody, the first thing you will need to do is file a petition with the court, officially requesting visitation. These papers will also need to be served to the parent or parents. If they don’t respond, or don’t agree to visitation, the case will go to court so that a decision can be made. Once you reach that point, it’ll be up to the court to decide whether to order grandparent visitation, and how much.
The Benefits of Legal Counsel
Filing for grandparent visitation is a tricky endeavor that can be successful. Grandparents’ rights are not widely recognized and parents are usually considered to have the right to make decisions for their own children. If you want to petition for grandparent rights, it’s important to be represented by someone experienced in the intricacies of family law. For more information about petitioning for grandparents’ rights, or for help assessing whether your situation qualifies, contact Simon Law Group, PLLC, today.