There are cases where Arizona parents may refuse to allow their child’s family members, including the child’s maternal or fraternal grandparents, to visit. This can be particularly distressing for both the family members and the child, especially if a relationship has already been established. In some cases, the family members may seek visitation through the court system.
It is not necessarily a sure thing that the court will grant visitation rights to extended family members. Parents have the right to raise their children as they see fit unless the parenting decision harms the child. If a grandparent or other family member wants visitation against the parent or parents’ wishes, they must demonstrate to the court that they have established a meaningful relationship with the child and that withholding visitation would cause significant harm.
Prior to 1986, all states had grandparent visitation statures that allowed the grandparents to continue to see their grandchildren in the event the parents sought a divorce or if a parent died as long as the visitation benefited the child. However, a 2000 Supreme Court decision in a case in which a mother wanted to restrict the paternal grandparents’ right to have the child stay overnight with them twice per month changed this. The Court determined that the grandparents’ visitation request violated the parent’s constitutional rights. Following the decision, many states restricted the rights of grandparents and other extended family members.
Grandparents may wish to continue building their relationship with their grandchildren, even if the children’s parent or parents are not interested. A family law attorney may potentially negotiate an agreement between the grandparents and parents that works for all parties involved. If there is evidence that cutting off contact between grandparents and grandchildren will cause harm to the children, the attorney may help request visitation.