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What will courts consider before awarding grandparent visitation?

Previous posts on this blog have discussed how, unfortunately, it can be difficult for grandparents to get court-ordered visitation in Arizona, even though Phoenix is known for a having a significant number of retirees, many of whom are grandparents and probably want to have a relationship with their child.

However, while it is difficult, getting grandparents visitation rights is not an impossible task in Arizona. First, as has been discussed previously in this blog, a grandparent has to be legally eligible to ask for court-ordered visitation. Assuming that they do qualify, an Arizona court will decide whether or not the visitation would be in the best interest of the child.

Under Arizona law, the court has to give "special weight" to the opinion/position of the child's parents or, in the case of a death, the child's surviving parent. So, if a parent does not want the grandparent to have visitation, it puts a grandparent at a legal disadvantage. Unfortunately for grandparents, the burden of proof is on the grandparent who must prove that the denial of visitation would clearly and substantially impair the child's interests.  That is a very high burden to meet and makes grandparent visitation, against the wishes of the parent(s), very difficult to obtain.

 

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