When families break apart, no matter what the reason may be, grandparents do have certain legal rights, and can seek visitation with grandchildren. In some cases, grandparents can seek custody of their grandchildren. The laws that determine grandparent rights vary from state to state and understanding those basic rights, help ensure that grandparents can retain their relationship with their grandchildren.
Federal legislation may affect grandparent’s rights, though state law is what these rights are primarily based upon. In 1980, Congress passed the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, which requires each state give full faith and credit to child custody decrees from other states. In 1988, Federal legislation requires that courts in each state recognize and enforce grandparental visitation orders from courts in other states.
Arizona is unusual in that it specifically grants great-grandparents the same rights as grandparents. Those rights are fairly rigidly defined. The conditions that must be met are contained in the law that pertains to grandparent rights, Arizona Statute 25-409. As in all states, the court must determine the best interest of the child, considering such issues as any historical relationship between the grandparent and the child, the motivation of the person requesting or denying the visitation, the quantity of time requested and the possible adverse impact the visitation could have upon the child’s customary activities. Petitions for visitation rights can be filed as part of divorce or paternity proceedings or grandparents can petition the court separately for visitation rights.
If you are having an issue with visitation rights, it is beneficial to seek counsel from a competent family attorney who has the expertise and experience to protect you and your family’s interest.