Third party rights refer to the rights on non-parent caretakers of minors and the rights to visitation they have. Depending upon each unique situation and the legal parents on the minor, the Court can allow these third party caretakers certain rights in order to best meet the needs of a child.
Arizona law provides grandparents with certain visitation rights. Under A.R.S. § 25-409, the court may grant visitation rights to a grandparent if the visitation would be in the child’s best interest and any of the following are true:
Additionally, under A.R.S. § 25-409, in determining the best interest of the child, the court must give special weight to the opinion of the parents as to what serves their child’s best interest. However, the court must consider all relevant factors, including:
The most difficult cases for grandparents are when the mother or father objects to visitation. When a parent objects to visitation, the grandparent must do two things: (1) show that access to the grandparent is in the child’s best interest, and (2) overcome the presumption that the parent acts in the child’s best interest. As these two things are somewhat intertwined, the question really becomes whether visitation with the grandparent is in the child’s best interest.
In Loco Parentis
Non-parents other than grandparents have certain rights too. For example, under A.R.S. 25-409, a non-parent may petition the superior court for legal decision-making authority or placement of the child. However, the person filing the petition must establish all of the following:
Even assuming the person can establish the items listed above, there is still a rebuttable presumption that awarding legal decision-making to a legal parent serves the child’s best interests. A third party may rebut this presumption only with proof showing by clear and convincing evidence that awarding legal decision-making to a legal parent is not consistent with the child’s best interests. See A.R.S. 25-409(B).
The experienced family law attorneys at Giordano & Heckele, PLLC can help third-parties, (including grandparents, uncles, aunts, and others) navigate through issues of legal decision-making, visitation, and placement. Call today for a consultation: (520) 433-9031. Or email us at [email protected].