The law presumes that the parents of a child are the ones best suited to raise their own children. However, occasionally situations arise where the parents are not present or able to adequately care for their children. In this situation, the State of Arizona recognizes that natural or adoptive grandparents or great-grandparents may be entitled to pursue a court order for legal decision-making authority (custody) or placement of their grandchildren over the legal parent’s objection.

In order for a grandparent or a third party to have custody of a child, the court must find that the grandparent or person stands “in loco parentis” – that is, that the grandparent and child have formed such a close bond over a period of time that they have a parent/child relationship. The court must also find that it would be detrimental for the child to stay in the custody of the parents. Additionally, grandparents must show one of the following conditions exist: one of the parents is deceased, a petition for dissolution or legal separation of the parents is pending, or the child was born out of wedlock.

A person other than a legal parent may also petition the court for visitation with a child. The court may grant visitation rights if they find that visitation is in the child’s best interest and that one of the following is true: one of the parents has been dead or missing for at least three (3) months, the child was born out of wedlock, the parents have been divorced for at least three (3) months, or a petition for dissolution or legal separation of the parents is pending.

If one of the above scenarios applies to you, contact Onisile Law Firm to see how you can establish custody of or visitation with your grandchildren.

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