According to Arizona law, grandparents and great-grandparents have an ability to request visitation with their grandchildren under certain circumstances. In order to file an action, one of three factors must apply:

  1. The legal parents must be divorced for at least three months;
  2. The legal parents were never married to each other; or
  3. One of the legal parents is deceased or has been missing for at least three months. If one of these elements is present, the court must then consider whether the visitation with the grandparent is in the children’s best interests.

A fit parent’s opinion of what serves the children’s best interests will be given special weight by the court. The amount of visitation between a grandparent and grandchildren will depend upon several factors including the historical relationship between the children and grandparent as well as the children’s customary activities.

There are also situations when grandparents can seek legal decision-making (custody) of their grandchildren.

In order to do so, the grandparent must act as a parent to the children (or stand in loco parentis) and the court must find that it would be significantly detrimental for the children to be placed with either legal parent. The legal parents must be notified of any case for grandparent’s rights. This is generally done through a process server.

Do grandparents have Visitation rights to their Grandchildren?

Yes, in certain circumstances. All 50 states have enacted legislation enabling grandparents to petition the courts for visitation rights with their grandchildren. Visitation rights are not automatic – they merely give grandparents the right to seek a visitation order. Many states permit only grandparents to petition for visitation, but some have extended the right to other relatives, such as great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and siblings, stepparents, and even non-relatives with whom the child has a close relationship. Most commonly, a grandparent (or other permitted third party) may petition for visitation after the death of a parent or upon divorce of the parents. Some statutes allow petitions when a parent is incarcerated, when a child is born out of wedlock, and when the child has previously lived with the grandparent. Arizona law allows grandparents to seek visitation with their grandchildren if certain conditions exist. Grandparent visitation matters can be extremely complex and fact specific. If you have questions about such issues, you should consult an attorney to discuss your situation.

Kathleen Stillman

Associate

Jared Sandler

Associate