In most instances, a grandparent visits with their grandchild during the time set aside for their son or daughter, as the parent of the child.
In some cases, however, grandparents do not see their grandchildren for a number of reasons, including the loss of parental rights by their son or daughter, the death or disappearance of the parent of the child, adoption of the child by another family, the child’s entrance into the foster care system, refusal of the parents to allow the grandparents access to the child, and logistical concerns.
Under Arizona law, grandparents and great-grandparents may be awarded legal visitation rights, A.R.S §25-409 if any of the following is true:
- A relationship is in the best interest of the child AND
- The parents are divorced
- A parent is deceased or reported missing
- The child was born out of wedlock
- The historical relationship between the child and grandparents or great-grandparents
- The motivation for the request
- The motivation by the parent or guardian in denying access to the child
- The amount of time requested and any adverse affect it may have on other activities
- Whether the grandparents have access to the child when their son or daughter has custody
Grandparents whose grandchildren have been adopted by other families will not be granted visitation rights under A.R.S. §25-409. This does not apply to step-parents who adopt their step-son or step-daughter.
A grandparent may also petition for custody or visitation under A.R.S. §25-415 if a grandparent stands in loco parentis to the child, meaning they have a close relationship with the child and have acted as a guardian or parent to the child. A relationship in loco parentis may be one in which the child spent meaningful time with the grandparent and is emotionally attached to the grandparent and/or one in which the grandparent acted as a caregiver to the child.
For a grandparent to successfully apply for custody under A.R.S. §25-415 the following must also be true:
- It would be detrimental to the child to be placed with his or her natural parents
- The court has not decided the child’s custody with in past 12 months, unless the current living arrangements are detrimental to the child
- One of the following is true:
- One parent is deceased
- The child’s legal parents* are not married
- There is a pending separation or divorce proceeding
*Legal Parents refers to biological or adoptive parents who retain parental rights
If you are a grandparent who is experiencing any of these situations or another that is preventing you from seeing your grandchild, or if you are the parent of a child whose grandparents are seeking family visitation or custody, contact the Law Office of Corso and Rhude for a free, legal consultation.