In recent years, the issue of grandparent visitation rights has become a hot topic across the country. All 50 states now have laws that govern how grandparents are awarded visitation, and a grandparent’s right to petition for visitation has changed the face of custody battles. In Arizona, state law governs how courts should determine appropriate grandparent visitation arrangements.
First and foremost, according to Arizona law, any visitation granted to grandparents must be in the best interest of the child. Grandparents must follow the same procedure to obtain visitation rights as a non-custodial parent and prove that their involvement in their grandchild’s life is in the child’s best interest.
Certain factors help courts determine what is in the best interest of a child. A judge may more readily grant visitation rights if grandparents already have an established relationship with the child, for example. The value of maintaining an extended family relationship with the members of a deceased parent’s family is also considered. Some factors may negatively influence a judge’s decision, such as the strength of the objections of the custodial parent against visitation rights for the grandparents and if the amount of time grandparents request to spend with their grandchildren will likely interfere with the relationship between the child and his or her custodial parent.
Once the best interests of the child have been established, one or more of the following criteria must be met: the marriage of the child’s parents must be void for at least three months, or a parent must be deceased or missing for at least three months. Grandparents may also petition for visitation rights if their grandchild was born out of wedlock.
If these conditions are met and a judge grants visitation rights to grandparents, the court will try to arrange visitation while the grandparent’s child has custody. For example, if maternal grandparents are granted visitation rights, a judge will try to arrange their visitation when the child’s mother has custody. In the case of a deceased parent, the decedent’s parents may be granted visitation similar to that which the deceased parent would have been awarded.
There are several factors that may void or hinder grandparent visitation rights. If the child is adopted by another family, for example, the courts have the right to terminate grandparent visitation. Acrimony between spouses and their families may also be a barrier to visitation rights.
In Arizona, grandparents to have rights to visit with their grandchildren in the event of a divorce or death, but certain requirements must be met before visitation may be granted. If you are interested in obtaining visitation rights to see your grandchild, seek the advice of an experience family law attorney, who can help you understand the visitation rights process.