Child custody describes the legal relationships and status regarding a child or children and their legal guardians and/or parents. An individual with the custody of a child or children by default has all the responsibilities and rights of raising the child or children. This includes caring for the child or children and making choices and legal decisions for the child or children. The custody of a child or children can be granted by a court to anyone, meaning, a legal guardian can be the child or children’s, adoptive parents, biological parents, cousins, grandparents, siblings that are of legal age as well as friends, uncles and aunts. Read on to learn more.
In most custody cases for a child or children, grandparents are often not given consideration, when it comes to visitation and securing custodial rights. Even when the grandparents have been separated from the child or children from their parents because of causes like divorce, death or the breakdown of communication between a child or children and their parent or parents.
Primary Arguments For The Rights Of Grandparents
- The child or children can suffer from trauma when they no longer have contact with the grandparents.
- Divorce or the incarceration of a child or children or if a child or children should die does not give the parent who has custody the right to sever the relationship the children or child has with their grandparents.
- Grandparents offer a stable role in the life of a grandchild or grandchildren. This is especially the case for a child or children following a death or a divorce.
Primary Arguments Against The Rights Of Grandparents
- As long as the parents are competent, the state generally has no right to interfere in the decisions of how those parents raise their child or children – meaning a parent has the right to exclude a visit from a grandparent, even when supervised.
- There can be good reasons to exclude a grandparent or grandparents. For example, if they have a history of child abuse or interfere with the process of the conventional decisions competent parents make on behalf of their child or children. Also, some grandparents will bad mouth the parents of the child or children in front of them.
- Grandparents and parents often have conflicts but even when parents are being irrational or unfair, interference from a court can make the home of the child or children less stable than before.
Currently, a grandparent visitation law does not exist nor is it protected in any shape or form in common law or the constitution of the United States of America. In the last 40 years, any statutes or laws on the books regarding the rights of a grandparent of a child or children are not similar from state to state. It is true all 50 states have visitation laws for a child or children as well as who may be permitted to have visitation with them after a case of child custody has been determined. These laws can consider, stepparents, parents and grandparents.
Approximately forty percent of US states only allow grandparents of the child or children to have rights of visitation and not any other person. The consequences of this are cousins; foster parents, stepparents or other relatives cannot be granted rights of visitation. However, in all of the fifty states, Grandparents are able to file a lawsuit in court in situations when they have been told they are denied the right to visit or see their grandchild or grandchildren when there is apparently no reason for them not to be allowed access to the grandchild or grandchildren.
Grandparents Rights In Arizona
In Arizona, the custodial rights of Grandparents are defined by statute A.R.S. § 25-409. Therefore, Grandparents maintain the right to be involved in the lives of their grandchild or grandchildren and if needed, to seek safe protection for them, on their behalf. Grandparents can seek legal assistance when the relationship between a grandchild or grandchildren has become broken in cases where the grandchild or grandchildren may be in risk or danger. These rights can help Grandparents retain involvement in the lives of their grandchild or grandchildren as well as protect their own rights as Grandparents. Some examples of where legal advice may be required include:
- Parents refuse Grandparents involvement or even access to their grandchild or grandchildren.
- Adoption, permanent custody or guardianship of a grandchild or grandchildren.
- In cases of parental abuse of a grandchild or grandchildren.
Furthermore, Grandparents are realizing they have rights and can exercise them, examples include:
- The filing of court petitions with the purpose of requesting continued visitation and access to their grandchild or grandchildren.
- The filing of child custody petitions with the purpose of care of a grandchild or grandchildren.
- The filing adoption petitions with the purpose of care for a grandchild or grandchildren.
Grandparents often seek legal advice on their visitation rights regarding a grandchild or grandchildren. There are legal requirements that must be gone through and met including the fact Grandparents must provide evidence their contact with a grandchild or grandchildren is in the child’s best interests. Some factors that are taken into consideration include:
- The historical bond the Grandparent has with the grandchild or grandchildren.
- A parental divorce of at least a minimum of three months.
- A parental absence of at least a minimum of three months.
- When a child or children are born out of wedlock.
Custodial requests by Grandparents are considerably more complex as a vital key to success will be providing convincing evidence the parents are unfit. Grandparents seeking such relief will very likely need competent legal assistance to advance their case.
Source: Phoenixdivorceattorney. “Grandparent’s Rights in Arizona (Ultimate Guide for 2019).” Cantor Law Group, https://cantorlawgroup.com/grandparents-rights-in-arizona.
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*This information is not intended to be legal advice. Please contact Canterbury Law Group today to learn more about your personal legal needs.