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Enforcement of grandparent visitation

This blog has talked about how Phoenix grandparents, in the right circumstances, can get a court order that requires their grandchildren's caregivers, usually a parent, to allow visits with the grandchildren. Getting this order is an important first step in securing grandparents visitation, but what happens if the parent simply chooses to ignore the order?

While one would hope that a child's parent would respect the court's decision, many Arizona parents may choose to disregard the order and continue to withhold the child from loving grandparents. Should grandparents find themselves in this situation, they may have to take the child's caregiver back to court in order to enforce the order. Under Arizona law, a court can take certain actions against those who violate the visitation order.

For instance, in serious cases, the court can decide to hold the parent who is denying court-ordered grandparent visitation in contempt. Ordinarily, penalties for contempt can include fines and even jail time. Civil penalties, mandatory parenting class at the violating parent's expense and the like are also possible penalties.

The court has some leeway to be creative in coming up with a solution that will benefit the best interest of the children involved. For instance, if a grandparent has missed out on a number of visits, the judge may order that those visits get made up. In other cases, the judge may require family counseling sessions or mediation and further require the non-cooperative parent to pay for the sessions. There are legal remedies available to grandparents when their court-ordered visitation rights do not get the respect they deserve.

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