By Harry J. Lenaburg, Esq.
Just when you think a family law case is done because the Judge signed the court order, other issues arise with legal decision making authority and the parenting time arrangements for the biological parents because they can be so difficult to comply with or enforce. It often happens that the grandparents and/or great grandparents find themselves cut off from the relationship they have established with their grandchildren. This may occur under a variety of different situations, and the legislature in Arizona has provided for that occurrence by statute.
Arizona Revised Statutes section 25-409 provides for so called ”Third Party Rights” and outlines the bases and procedures for an individual or couple who are not the biological parent of a child to secure visitation rights. Jurisdiction to bring the action is set forth in Arizona Revised Statutes section 25-402(B)(2), and the petition must be verified, or supported by an affidavit with detailed facts supporting the claim. Other conditions include that one of the legal parents is deceased or has been missing, that the child was born out of wedlock or that the marriage of the parents of the child has been dissolved for at least three months.
As in every case involving a minor child, the court must determine what serves the child’s best interest. Relevant factors in the decision include the historical relationship between the child and the grandparent, the motivation for the request for visitation, the motivation of the party denying the visitation and the amount of time being requested by the grandparent. When possible the court will order the grandparent time to coincide with the parenting time of the biological parent.
Needless to say if you are a grandparent who finds himself or herself in the circumstance where you are being denied access to your grandchild you should consult with an experienced family law attorney in your area. Our practice is located in Glendale, Arizona, and we would be glad to meet with you to review your situation and discuss your options.
The Law Firm of Jessica M. Cotter, P.L.L.C.
18301 North 79th Avenue, Suite F-168
Glendale, Arizona 85308