Chandler grandparents’ rights attorney
Helping people with grandparents’ rights and other family law matters throughout the Phoenix Valley, including Mesa, Gilbert, Ahwatukee, and Sun Lakes
Grandparents play a vital role in a child’s life. They are the keepers of family tradition and have the accumulated wisdom of many years, which can play a significant factor in the child’s future success. The grandparents’ role is particularly important when the parents are unable or have limited ability to care for the child. As society changes and nontraditional patterns of family organization grow, grandparents’ legal rights is becoming an increasingly important area of family law.
Because exercising these rights can be challenging and complex, seeking the guidance of an experienced Chandler grandparents’ rights attorney is a wise investment.
The evolution of grandparents’ rights
Until recently, grandparents’ rights were barely recognized. By law, parents were considered solely responsible for caring for and disciplining their children. Even if one or more grandparents lived in the same household with the grandchildren, grandparents typically provided only babysitting services and perhaps support and guidance. Discipline and punishment usually were left up to the parents, and the grandparents took custody and control of the child or children only if both parents were unavailable or deceased.
Unfortunately, more children today are subject to difficult home situations. Drug addiction among parents has skyrocketed, and the current downturn in the economy certainly hasn’t helped matters. The sad reality is that, for a variety of reasons, more and more parents are having difficulty taking care of and providing for their own needs let alone those of their children.
When this happens, the most obvious, readily available adults to step in and care for children typically are the grandparents. That’s because grandparents tend to be the most dependable family members. Also, they usually have more money to spend on and more time to spend with the kids than anyone else.
Courts are becoming increasingly likely to recognize the legal rights grandparents have relative to their grandchildren. Still, these rights continue to be tempered by the superior rights of the children’s parents.
What rights grandparents have
Grandparents have the right of visitation, although it is not an absolute right under the law. Sometimes one or both parents’ legal rights are still intact, and they object to visitation with one or more of the grandparents. If a court decides that it would not be in the child’s best interests to be forced to have contact with his or her grandparents, then visitation can be denied. Grandparents can also get custody under certain limited circumstances, as discussed below in the “How a grandparent gets custody” section.
How courts determine grandparents’ visitation rights
Under Arizona law, grandparents and even great-grandparents may petition the court for visitation rights as long as it is deemed to be in the child’s best interests and at least one of the following is true:
- The child’s parents have been divorced for at least three months, and the grandparent is the parent of the child’s noncustodial parent.
- One of the child’s parents has been deceased or missing for at least three months, and the grandparent is the parent of the child’s deceased or missing parent.
- The child’s parents never wed.
Other factors courts consider
In determining the best interests of the child, Arizona law requires judges to consider all “relevant factors,” including five statutory ones:
- The historical relationship between the grandparent and child
- The motivation of the grandparent in seeking visitation rights
- The motivation of the parent in denying visitation
- The amount of visitation sought by the grandparent and any impact this may have on the child’s life and activities
- The benefit of maintaining visitation with extended family members in cases where one or both parents are deceased
How a grandparent gets custody
Many factors determine whether and how a grandparent might get custody. Much depends on the current status of the children and parents. For example, the child may already have been removed from the parents’ home and placed in a group home, foster care, or temporary guardianship with another relative or even a stranger. Regardless, there must be a court proceeding to consider placement of the child or children with a grandparent or grandparents.