Grandparents: Custody and Visitation Rights

According to Arizona State law, grandparents and great-grandparents of minor children may petition the courts to be given visitation rights or custody privileges if they believe it is in the best interest of the child. However, there are many conditions that must be met for a court to grant such privileges to a non-legal parent. Many unique circumstances may require a grandparent to be responsible for the caretaking of a child, and at Crider Law we will work with you to ensure that your family’s childcare needs are met.


Some parents may try to keep their children from seeing their ex-spouse’s family after a divorce. For grandparents, this can be difficult, especially if they believe the parents are not equipped to take adequate care of the children. To grant grandparents visitation rights, even those with in loco parentis relationships (meaning that the child and the non-parent have formed a meaningful parent-child relationship over a period of time), the courts must see evidence that:

  • The parents’ marriage has been dissolved for at least 3 months, or
  • One or both parents is deceased or has been missing, as reported to law enforcement, for at least 3 months, or
  • The child was born outside of wedlock and the parents are not married at the time the petition is made

The courts will consider the following factors when determining whether grandparent visitation is necessary and beneficial to the child.

  • The historical relationship, if any, between the child and the person seeking visitation.
  • The motivation of the requesting party seeking visitation.
  • The motivation of the person objecting to visitation.
  • The quantity of visitation time requested and the potential adverse impact that visitation will have on the child’s customary activities.
  • If one or both of the child’s parents are deceased, the benefit in maintaining an extended family relationship.

Guardianship & Custody

In Arizona, parents can also choose to relinquish their rights of guardianship to a grandparent or other non-parent, but both parents must give their written consent by submitting a petition for “Consent Guardianship”. In the event that a grandparent or other nonparent wishes to petition for sole or joint custody, the following conditions must be met.

  • The person filing the petition must have an in loco parentis relationship with the child, and
  • There must be substantial evidence that it would be “significantly detrimental” to the child to be placed in the custody of either of the child’s living legal parents (whether adoptive or birth) that wish to retain custody, and
  • The courts have not approved a different custody agreement for the child in question in the year prior to receiving the new custody petition. This rule is exempt if there is reason to believe that the child’s present circumstances are severely dangerous to their physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.

The courts stand on the “rebuttable presumption” that granting custody to the legal parents is in the best interest of the child due to the evidence that the physical, psychological, and emotional needs of the child can be best met by their legal parents. However, in any case where substantial evidence is given to show that a non-parent is found better suited to provide physical, psychological, and emotional stability to a child, the courts may allow grandparents and other non-parents to obtain custody rights and visitation privileges.

To find out how these petitions can affect the future of your family, call Crider Law today to set up a consultation.

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