In Arizona, certain third parties may seek custody of, and visitation with, children who are not the third parties' offspring. Grandparents are included in this third party group. In order for a grandparent to secure legal visitation rights with his or her grandchildren several requirements must be met.
First, visitation with the child by the grandparent must serve the child's best interests. Arizona family courts will always defer to the best interests of the child before making changes to a child's visitation and custody arrangements. This includes adding grandparent visitation to that schedule.
Next, one of the following factors must exist in order for the grandparent visitation request to be enforced by the court. One of the child's parents must be deceased or must be missing for at least three months in order for the grandparents on that side of the family to be granted visitation. Or, the parents of the child must not have been married when the child was born and cannot have married since the birth of the child. Finally, if the child's parents were married, their marriage must have been officially ended at least three months before the grandparent files a petition for visitation with the child.
There are other ways that a grandparent may pursue visitation with his or her grandchild but Arizona has a statutory framework under which grandparents must operate. Readers of this post should understand that this discussion of grandparent visitation is not comprehensive and those interested in learning more about the legal process should consult with Arizona-based family law attorneys. However, for those grandparents who do want to secure visitation with their estranged grandkids, options do exist for securing these important and often cherished familial bonds.