Unfortunately, when a relationship between a Grandparent and their own Child sours, a grandparent can be forced out of their grandchildren’s lives. This is a painful experience for Grandparents. Thankfully, Arizona provides grandparents with a route to achieve limited amounts of visitation with their grandkids.
The process of grandparents visitation time is outlined by A.R.S. 25-409. Most notably, under this statute, a grandparent can be given reasonable visitation rights when at least one of the following is true:
(1) One of the Grandchild’s legal parents passed away or has been missing for more than three months; .
(2) The Grandchild’s parents are not currently married;
(3) If the Grandchild’s parents were recently divorced, the divorce must have completed at least three (3) months prior to filing for visitation.
Like all cases involving children, the Court takes evidence and makes determinations based on what is in the Child’s “best interests.” Courts give “special weight” to the legal parents’ opinion of what serves their Child’s best interests. This “special weight” allows the Grandchild’s parents a high degree of deference when they make visitation decisions. In short, the Court gives a Grandchild’s parents great deference in how much time they get to spend with their grandparents.
Courts are bound to make certain determinations before awarding Grandparent’s visitation, including whether the Grandchild’s parent is a “fit parent.” Most parents are deemed “fit” and it takes a tremendous showing to demonstrate that a grandchildren’s parent is not fit.
Other important factors considered by the Court are the following:
(1) The historical relationship between the grandchild and grandparent;
(2) The motivation of the requesting party seeking visitation
(3) The motivation of the parent opposing the Grandparent seeing the grandchild;
(4) The quantity of visitation sought by a Grandparent; and
(5) If one or both of the Grandchild’s parents are deceased, the benefit in maintaining an extended family relationship.