The United States Supreme Court has held that parents have a fundamental constitutional right to control child rearing. Under Arizona law, a fit parent is presumed to be able to make decisions which are in his/her child's best interests, and the courts will stay out of the decision-making unless it is clear that the parents' decisions could be damaging to the child.
However, Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 25--409 gives a judge the right to intervene and order visitation between a child and her/his grandparents (or great-grandparents) -- even over the objection of the parents -- so long as the grandparents can meet the standards delineated in the statute. Basically, a grandparent must be able to prove that visitation rights would be in the best interests of the child and that any of the following is true:
1. The marriage of the parents of the child has been dissolved for at least three months;
2. A parent of the child has been deceased or has been missing for at least three months (i.e., the parents location has not been determined and the parent has been reported as missing to a law enforcement agency); or
3. The child was born out of wedlock.
In determining the child's best interests the court shall consider all relevant factors, including:
a. The historical relationship, if any, between the child and the person seeking visitation;
b. The motivation of the requesting party in seeking visitation;
c. The motivation of the person denying visitation;
d. The quantity of visitation time requested and the potential adverse impact that visitation will have on the child's customary activities; and
e. If one or both of the child's parents are dead, the benefit in maintaining an extended family relationship.
If you are being unfairly deprived of contact with your grandchild and would like to learn more about your rights, then please do not hesitate to call our office for a consultation.
Gary Frank is a Family Law Attorney with over thirty years of experience in dealing with grandparents visitation / custody matters, and advocating for the rights of children. You can reach us by telephone (602-383-3610), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or through out website (http://www.garyfranklaw.com/). We'd be happy to hear from you.