Few things are more meaningful to a grandparent than their love and affection for a grandchild. When visitation and access to their grandchildren is denied by the child parent, the emotional loss can be substantial.
Grandparents who spend little or no time with their grandchildren due to restricted access should talk to an Arizona lawyer to see if there is a case t for visitation rights.
Your Potential Options
Under limited circumstances, Arizona courts may order grandparent visitation. A grandparent or a great-grandparent may petition the court for visitation if at least one of the following is true:
- The child’s parents have been divorced at least three months.
- One of the child’s parents has been deceased or missing for at least three months.
- The child was born out of wedlock.
How Arizona Courts Make A Determination
In determining whether or not a grandparent should be granted visitation, the court must give deference to the fundamental and constitutionally protected rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit. Grandparents do not have such constitutionally protected rights.
A presumption exists that a fit parent acts in his or her child’s best interests when making decisions concerning the child’s care and well being, including decisions regarding grandparent visitation. Thus, a parent’s decision about the amount of time that should be spent with a grandparent is given special consideration.
In order to gain visitation, a grandparent must rebut the presumption that the parent’ s decision is appropriate and best for the child, and prove a total or effective denial of access to the grandchild is occurring. For reference, an effective denial occurs when visitation is so limited or unreasonable that it essentially fails to foster a relationship between a grandparent and grandchild. Only then can the court grant you visitation, and it will do so only upon a finding that visitation will be in the best interests of the child.
Best Interests of the Child
In determining the child’s best interests, the court will consider all relevant factors, including:
- The historical relationship between the child and the grandparent
- The motivation of the grandparent in seeking visitation
- The motivation of the person denying visitation
- The quantity of the requested visitation
- The potential adverse impact such visitation would have on the child’s customary activities
If logistically possible and appropriate, the court will order that visitation by a grandparent occurs when the grandchild is residing or spending time with the parent through whom the grandparent claims a right of access.
Moreover, if the parent denying access is not your son or daughter but their ex-spouse instead, the court will first look at granting you visitation during your child’s parenting time before it considers giving you your own time. Grandparent visitation situations are significantly different than those where a grandparent is raising and has been acting as a parent to a grandchild.
Contact us at Hallier Lawrence for more information about grandparent visitation rights and whether you may have a legal right to visitation.