Prior posts on this Phoenix divorce and family law blog have discussed the rights of grandparents to seek visitation with their grandchildren. When parents split up and families become estranged from each other, grandparents can sometimes find that their relationships with their grandkids suffer if their children's former spouses have sole custody of the children. When it serves the best interests of the children, courts can order that grandparents receive visitation time with their grandchildren in order to preserve those relationships.
However, a short clause at the end of Arizona's law on third party rights discusses one way that grandparents may later lose their rights to visitation with their biological grandchildren. If a child remains the legal child of the child's biological parents then the child's grandparents may seek visitation. If, however, the child's biological parents give the child up for adoption and the child ceases to be the legal responsibility of the child's biological parents then the child's biological grandparents will lose their rights to visitation with the child.
In essence, grandparents may only have visitation with grandchildren that are still the children of the grandparents' offspring. If a child is adopted out of the child's biological family the child is no longer the grandchild of his biological grandparents; as such grandparents' rights to visitation end when a child is no longer a legal member of the grandparents' families.
Losing touch with a grandchild can be heart-wrenching for a grandparent. As long as that child remains the child of his biological parents his grandparents can, in Arizona, seek to have visitation time with him. If the child's parents should lose their legal rights to be the child's parents, however, the child's biological grandparents may find their rights are no longer enforceable under the law.