Grandparent Rights

Grandparents or Great-Grandparents in Arizona may seek grandparent rights to have visitation with a grandchild during the child’s minority. Normally a grandparent will seek grandparent rights where they have had a falling out with their child who is refusing to allow the grandparent contact with the grandchild or where one parent is deceased or not associated with the grandchild and the grandparents have therefore lost contact with the grandchild. A.R.S. 25-409 sets forth the specific laws which control for grandparent visitation. A court is only permitted to enter grandparent visitation rights where the marriage of the parents has been dissolved at least three months, one parent is deceased or missing for three month, or the child was born out of wedlock. If these factors exist, the Court still must determine if it is in the best interests of the child for visitation with the grandparents to occur. The Court is required to consider all factors in the best interests of the child including the following under A.R.S. 25-409:

1. The historical relationship, if any, between the child and the person seeking visitation.

2. The motivation of the requesting party in seeking visitation.

3. The motivation of the person denying visitation.

4. The quantity of visitation time requested and the potential adverse impact that visitation will have on the child's customary activities.

5. If one or both of the child's parents are dead, the benefit in maintaining an extended family relationship.

Normally visitation by a grandparent or great-grandparent is ordered to occur when the child is residing or spending time with the parent through whom the grandparent or great-grandparent claims a right of access to the child. If that parent is unable to have the child reside or spend time with them, the court shall order visitation by a grandparent or great-grandparent to occur when that parent would have had that opportunity. Recently, grandparent statutes have come under attack in the Courts. The Supreme Court case Troxel v. Granville put in question state statutes regarding grandparent visitation rights when a statute from the state of Washington was overturned regarding grandparents rights. Such case led to disputes in the state of Arizona including the primary cases of Graville v. Dodge and Jackson v. Tangreen. Both of these cases resulted in the Arizona Court’s determining the grandparent visitation statute to be constitutional. The Court will rely heavily, however, on the wishes of a parent with regard to grandparent visitation rights, whether that parent has been reasonable in granting or withholding grandparent visitation, and whether the requests made by the grandparent are burdensome on the parents.

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