When people think of custody lawsuits, they typically think of a dispute between a child’s parents. Custody lawsuits are not limited to parents, however, and Arizona law provides grandparents with rights in certain circumstances as well. Thus, in some cases, a child's grandparent may be awarded visitation or legal decision-making authority, or both. If you were served with legal documents seeking grandparent rights, or if you are a grandparent who needs assistance with seeking access or legal decision-making authority, it is essential to retain a knowledgeable attorney to assist you. The Mesa grandparent rights lawyers at Stromfors Law Office can help you navigate the complexities of an action seeking grandparent rights and will aggressively seek a favorable outcome on your behalf. We have almost two decades of experience helping people in grandparent rights cases in Maricopa County.A Grandparent’s Right to Visitation
Under Arizona law, a grandparent can seek visitation with a child. The court may grant visitation if it finds that it would be in the child’s best interests, and either the child was born out of wedlock and the parents were not married when the petition for visitation was filed, or the parents have been divorced for at least three months. Visitation may also be granted when one of the child’s legal parents is dead or has been missing for three or more months. A grandparent’s petition seeking visitation must include an affidavit and facts supporting the petition, and a copy of the petition must be served on the child’s parents and anyone with visitation rights or legal decision-making authority. A grandparent rights attorney in Mesa can help you make sure that you complete the necessary paperwork thoroughly.
In weighing whether to grant visitation, the court will consider the past relationship between the child and the grandparent and the motivation of the grandparent and anyone opposing visitation. The court will also assess whether the amount of time requested would negatively affect the child’s normal activities. In cases in which one or both of the child's parents are deceased, the court will also evaluate the benefit in preserving a relationship with the child's extended family. The child’s legal parent’s opinion as to whether visitation should be granted will be given special consideration as well.A Grandparent’s Right to Legal Decision-Making Authority
Grandparents are also permitted to petition the court for legal decision-making authority over a child. In order for the court to grant such authority, the grandparent must establish that he or she stands in loco parentis to the child. In other words, the grandparent must show that he or she is currently acting in place of the child’s parent. Furthermore, the grandparent needs to prove that it would be substantially detrimental for the child to remain in the care of either legal parent and that no order defining parenting time or legal decision-making has been issued in the past year. There is an exception to the one-year limitation, however, in cases in which the child's physical or mental health is endangered by his or her current environment. Lastly, the grandparent must show either that one of the child’s legal parents is dead, or that the parents are not married to each other or are in the process of obtaining a legal separation or divorce. Our Mesa grandparent rights attorneys can help grandparents evaluate whether they can meet these requirements.
Obtaining legal decision-making authority as a grandparent is a challenging quest, since there is a rebuttable presumption that it is in the best interests of a child for a living legal parent to retain legal decision-making rights. Thus, a grandparent seeking legal decision-making authority must rebut the presumption by producing clear and convincing evidence that remaining under the authority of a legal parent is not in the child’s best interests.Meet With an Experienced Family Law Attorney in Mesa
If you are a grandparent seeking to access or make decisions for your grandchild, or if the grandparent of your child is petitioning the court for rights, it is vital to retain a capable child custody attorney to help you seek a favorable outcome. The proficient family law attorneys at Stromfors Law Office can formulate persuasive arguments in support of your position to give you a strong chance of obtaining your desired result. Based in the Mesa area, our grandparent rights lawyers represent parents and grandparents in child custody cases throughout Maricopa County. You can contact us at (480) 237-1276 or through our form online to schedule a conference to discuss your case.