When parents divorce, their children must adjust to many lifestyle changes. Grandparents can, and often do, play a critical role in helping children adjust. Unfortunately the process of divorce impacts many more lives than just the couple who enter into the divorce. Grandparents are often able to provide the support, nurturing, time, and attention that a child needs and that a working newly-single parent struggles to provide. Yet, when children need them the most, the severing of their parent’s marital relationship also severs their relationship with one or both sets of grandparents. Luckily in Arizona, there are specific rights defined by State law to enable a stable relationship between children and grandparents.
How Can I Qualify For Visitation As a Grandparent?
Arizona law, according to A.R.S. § 25-409, recognizes the important role grandparents play in the life of a child and authorizes the Superior Court to order grandparent visitation where the court finds that it is in the children’s best interests to do so even over the objection of the parents. At least one of the following circumstances must exist:
The parent’s marriage has been dissolved for more than three months;
A parent of the child has been missing (meaning the parent cannot be located, or law enforcement has declared the parent missing) or deceased for at least three months; or
The child was born out of wedlock.
The Superior Court may also grant visitation rights to great-grandparents under similar circumstances. Application must be made to the Superior Court within the parent’s domestic relations case. Either or both of the children’s parents may contest the application.
What Will The Court Consider?
Arizona looks at the "best interests of the child" standard. This is not one strict rule, but a compilation of factors to determine the best interests of the particular child in front of the court. Therefore, when a court considers visitation for a grandparent, they look at the following factors:
- The grandparent's relationship to the child historically;
- How motivated the grandparent is in having visitation with the child;
- If there are any reasons why visitation would be denied;
- The amount of time that has been requested by the grandparent and any impact that time may have on the child's regular activity;
- The benefit of having a relationship with extended family in the event that at least one of the parents are deceased.
Not only must the best interest of the child standard be met, but the standard must be shown by a "preponderance of the evidence." This means that there is at least a 51% probability that visitation with the grandparent is in the child's best interest.
Speak With An Experienced Family Law Attorney
Contact our office or call 602-277-4441 to speak with one of our knowledgeable family law attorneys at Platt & Westby, P.C., for help with a grandparent visitation claim. This time can be very emotionally charged and with so many steps to completing the process often times it becomes confusing. We are here to help you through this trying time and encourage you to speak with one of our attorneys who will walk you through this process and be available to answer any and all of your questions.