Grandparents love their grandchildren immensely and often serve as great role models in a child’s life. Naturally, this deep love translates into wanting to visit and interact with their grandchildren. But sometimes, a divorce can get in the way of this important relationship.
Thankfully, Arizona law provides direction regarding when a grandparent can ask the Court for orders allowing them visitation or in some instances even decision-making for their grandchildren.
According to Section 25-409 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, grandparents may be granted reasonable visitation rights if a judge finds that granting such rights are in the child’s best interests and one of the following conditions also applies:
- The marriage of the child’s parents has been dissolved for at least three months
- One of the child’s parents has been deceased or missing for at least three months
- The child was born outside of a marriage and the child’s legal parents are not married to each other at the time grandparent rights are requested
Qualifying under one of the above factors may be easy. However, it can be difficult to demonstrate that grandparent visitation is in a child’s best interests when a parent objects, because the Court gives special weight to a parent’s opinion of what is in the child’s best interests. The Court will consider all relevant factors, including:
- The historical relationship between the child and person (in this case, a grandparent) seeking visitation
- The motivation of the requesting party that seeks visitation rights
- The motivation of the person objecting to visitation
- The quantity of visitation time the requesting party is asking for as well as the potential adverse impact that granting visitation could have on the child’s customary activities
- If one or both of the child’s parents have died, the benefit in maintaining an extended family relationship
An experienced family law attorney will be able to help you show the court that granting visitation rights to the grandparents is in the best interest of the child.
In rare circumstances, grandparents may be able to assume decision-making rights for their grandchildren. Arizona law generally favors the child’s legal parents for Legal Decision-Making. However, if grandparents can prove that awarding Legal Decision-Making to a legal parent is not in the child’s best interest, it is possible for grandparents to obtain this authority.
At Hallier Stearns PLC, we value grandparents’ rights and care about the health and well-being of your grandchildren. Contact us if you have any questions about your legal rights as a grandparent.