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Understanding grandparent rights in Arizona

One of the most polarizing aspects of a child custody dispute in Arizona might have to do with a grandparent who wants custody of a child. This scenario can be for a multitude of reasons and is happening more frequently than ever. In some circumstances, the parents are not deemed fit to care for the children. In others, there is a personal issue for which the grandparent has to step in and care for the child. Sometimes, the biological parents are amenable to grandparent custody. Grandparents need to understand the facts when they're trying to exercise grandparent visitation or have custody outright.

In Arizona, a law was passed in 1983 in which grandparents were allowed visitation if it is in the child's best interests. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court deemed this unconstitutional. If a parent doesn't want a third party to have visitation, then they don't have to, the court decreed. The state said in 2003 that if the best interests of the child supersede the parents' rights in this instance, there can be visitation. Grandparents who believe that the children would be better served to live with them have the right to file for grandparent custody.

There are certain criteria that must be met for there to be grandparent visitation and child custody. If the grandparents' offspring is the parent of the child and doesn't have custody of the child, then the court is able to become involved in the case. It is also necessary for the parents of the child to have been divorced for a minimum of three months. If the parents of the child were never married, then the court can also step in.

If the parents are still married and there are no extenuating circumstances, the grandparents have few options to receive the right to have visitation. Although Arizona is friendlier to grandparents who are seeking visitation and custody than some other states, the state still leans toward leaving the child in the parents' custody if it is possible. Gathering information about grandparent rights is key to understanding how the process works when considering going to court to be granted visitation or custody.

Source: LiveStrong.com, "Arizona Grandparents Rights," Beverly Bird, accessed on Sept. 2, 2014

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