GRANDPARENT CUSTODY AND VISITATION RIGHTS
The law presumes that the parents are the ones best suited to raise their own children. However, situations occasionally arise where the parents are not present or are unable to adequately care for their children. In these situations, 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 essentially 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 that 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.