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When can grandparents seek visitation with their grandchild?

On Behalf of | Oct 6, 2020 | Family Law

Being a grandparent is one of life’s greatest joys for many people in Arizona. So, when grandparents are kept from seeing their grandchildren, this can cause a lot of grief. Grandparents in such situations might wonder if they have any right to visitation with their grandchild.

Grandparent visitation can be sought only in certain situations

In Arizona, there are only certain situations in which a grandparent can go to court to seek visitation with their grandchild. Essentially, if the child’s family is intact, meaning the child’s parents are still married, then the parents have the right to decide whether to allow the grandparents from seeing their grandchildren, and grandparents cannot sue for visitation.

Visitation may be sought only if one of the following conditions exist. Either:

  • The child’s parents have been divorced for at least three months
  • One of the child’s parents has died
  • One of the child’s parents has been officially missing for three or more months, or
  • The child’s parents were never married

Visitation will be based on the best interests of the child

If a grandparent does turn to the court to obtain visitation with their grandchild, simply meeting one of the aforementioned conditions is not enough. To award visitation, the court must find that doing so is in the child’s best interests.

There are a number of factors courts will look at to determine the best interests of the child. One is the history of the child’s relationship with the grandparent seeking visitation. The motives of the grandparent seeking visitation and the parent denying visitation will also be considered. How much visitation time is being requested and whether that visitation would negatively affect the child’s customary activities will also be considered. In addition, if visitation is being sought because one of the child’s parents has died, courts will consider the benefit to the child of maintaining a relationship with extended family.

Grandparents seeking visitation may also want to seek legal advice

Grandparents who want to seek legal visitation time with their grandchild may first want to speak to an attorney about their rights and options. This post does not contain legal advice applicable to any specific person’s situation, so grandparents who are being kept from seeing their grandchild will want to seek the help they need moving forward.