There are many children in Arizona and the rest of the country who are raised by people other than their parents. In some cases, if a child's parents cannot care for the child, the maternal or paternal grandparents will step in.
However, a legal process must take place in order for grandparents to officially obtain custody of their grandchildren.
Grandparents' custody rights are outlined in Arizona Revised Statute §25-415. In order to begin the process of petitioning for legal custody of a grandchild, a grandparent must establish that he or she is "in loco parentis" to the child. This is a Latin phrase meaning "in place of a parent."
Grandparents can show that they are "in loco parentis" by offering evidence that they are treated like a parent by the child, they are raising the child like a parent would, and they have a meaningful relationship with the child that has lasted for a significant amount of time.
If the child's parents are fighting the grandparents' request for custody, the grandparents must be prepared to prove that the parents having custody of the child would be significantly harmful to the child for the parents to have custody.
This isn't always an easy thing to prove as the law presumes that it is always in the child's best interest to be in the parent's custody.
If the grandparent is merely attempting to seek visitation with the grandchild, the process is somewhat easier. The grandparent needs to only convince the court that the visitation would be in the child's best interest.
Our firm has assisted many Arizona grandparents who are seeking custody or primary placement of their grandchildren, or visitation time with their grandchildren. To find out more about how we can help in any of these scenarios, please visit our Grandparents' Rights page.