Grandparents’ Rights and Third Parties’ Rights in Scottsdale

At Martinez Family Law, we aim to provide clients with personalized and customizable family legal services. We understand how sensitive and significant family legal issues can be, and we will do our best to utilize the law in your best interests. Whether you are a grandparent seeking custody or a third-party requesting visitation, Martinez Family Law can help you build a strong case for a relationship with the child. For cost-efficient and experienced legal representation in your family case, let our firm help.

Call (480) 571-7736 or contact Martinez Family Law online for a free initial consultation.

Grandparents’ Visitation and Custody Rights

Arizona grandparents can petition the court for visitation with their grandchildren if visitation is in the grandchildren’s best interests and one of the following is true:

  • one of the legal parents is deceased or has been reported missing for at least 3 months;
  • the child was born out of wedlock, and the parents aren't currently married;
  • the parents have been divorced for at least 3 months; or
  • the parents’ divorce or legal separation is currently pending.

A judge will give some deference to the grandchild’s legal parents before deciding on visitation with the grandparents, as the court presumes the parents know what's in the child's best interests unless the requesting grandparent proves otherwise.

When determining grandparent visitation, the judge will consider:

  • the grandparent's past relationship with the child;
  • the grandparent's motivations for visitation;
  • the parents’ motivations for opposing grandparent visitation;
  • the amount of requested visitation time and whether it may disrupt the child's current schedule; and
  • the benefit in the extended family relationship (if either of the parents are deceased).

Be aware that, when possible, courts will try to schedule a grandparent's visitation during periods when the grandparent's child has custody (e.g., maternal grandmother will have visitation during periods when the mother has custody).

Note that a grandparent also has the right to petition the court to enforce or modify their visitation order if a parent relocates with a child based on the same factors above.

In addition to visitation, Arizona grandparents can also obtain custody of a grandchild in special situations if each of the following criteria is met:

  • the grandparent has a parental relationship with the child;
  • neither legal parent is fit to have custody;
  • no court has entered a custody order in the previous year, unless the child's present environment threatens the child's wellbeing; and
  • the parents are unmarried, currently divorcing, or one parent has died.

Third Party Rights

Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 25-409 addresses the family legal rights of certain third-party individuals. In particular, a person other than a legal parent may petition for legal decision-making authority or placement of the child if:

  • the person filing the petition has a parental relationship with the child (“loco parentis”);
  • it would be significantly detrimental to the child to remain or be placed in the care of either legal parent who wishes to acquire legal custody;
  • a court has not entered or approved an order concerning legal decision-making or parenting time within 1 year before the person filed a petition; and
  • one of the following applies:
    • one of the legal parents is deceased;
    • the child's legal parents are not married to each other at the time the petition is filed;
    • a divorce or separation proceeding is pending at the time.

As with any custody decision, the court will examine the child’s best interests to determine whether to grant the third-party petitioner any level of legal decision-making authority. The court may also decide to grant visitation if doing so is in the child’s best interests and:

  • one of the legal parents is deceased or has been reported missing for at least 3 months;
  • the child was born out of wedlock to unmarried parents; or
  • the parents’ divorce or legal separation is currently pending.

Also note that the court will give special weight to the legal parents' opinion of what serves their child's best interests and consider relevant factors like:

  • any historical relationship between the child and the person seeking visitation;
  • the motivation of the requesting party;
  • the motivation of any person objecting to visitation;
  • the quantity of parenting time requested and the potential adverse impact it might have on the child's customary activities;
  • the benefit in maintaining an extended family relationship (if either legal parent is deceased).

If you have questions or concerns as a grandparent or other third-party requesting visitation or custody rights to a child in Scottsdale, do not hesitate to contact Martinez Family Law. We have extensive experience navigating Arizona’s family legal system, and we can take a look at your situation to determine whether you have a strong case for time with a grandchild or other relation.

Schedule a free initial consultation with Martinez Family Law online or at (480) 571-7736 to learn more.

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