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What custody, visitation rights do Arizona grandparents have?

When parents are estranged from their adult children and/or those children's spouses, they can generally be prevented from spending time with their grandchildren if the kids' parents choose not to give them access.

If grandparents (or great-grandparents) take the matter to court, judges are mandated to consider what is best for the children, just as they are in parental custody cases. Specific state laws vary regarding grandparent visitation and custody. Therefore, if you are living part of the year in Arizona -- as many people do -- but the case is being heard in another state, it's essential to know what that state's laws are.

Generally, however, courts will consider:

-- The ability of the children's parents to take care of them

-- The motivation of the grandparent for seeking visitation or custody

-- The emotional and physical health of the children

-- The strength and length of the grandparent/grandchild relationship

Here in Arizona, intact families are exempt from visitation suits by grandparents. They can only sue for visitation or custody under the following conditions:

-- A parent is deceased

-- The parents aren't married

-- The parents have been divorced for at least three months

-- A parent has been declared missing for three months or more

If none of the above circumstances applies, your best option is probably trying to work things out with the child's parent(s) to reach an agreement where you are able to see them. If one of these situations does apply, or if you strongly believe that your grandchildren are in harm's way, it's wise to seek the guidance of an experienced Arizona family law attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Factors Considered for Grandparent Visitation and Custody," accessed May 12, 2017

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