When divorces occur or other relationships are broken, family connections often become strained. In too many cases, grandparents and grandchildren are separated from one another through no fault of their own and the ensuing sense of deprivation adds misery to an already painful situation. If you are a grandparent in Arizona who is being denied the right to visit with your grandchildren, do not despair. Cohen Family Law, located in Phoenix, is prepared to work tirelessly to help you restore contact with those you love. Our founder and lead attorney, Mitchell E. Cohen, has a well-earned reputation not only for outstanding legal skills but for sensitivity and compassion as well. When you come to our office, his top priority will be fighting for your grandparents’ rights in order for you to spend time with your grandchildren.
In most cases, there is a special bond between children and their grandparents. Often, grandparents do better with their grandparenting than they ever did with their parenting. For one thing, they are older and wiser; for another, since they usually are not the primarily responsible adults on the scene, they can afford to be more playful, less critical and more indulgent with their beloved grandbabies.
Are grandparents legally entitled to visitation with their grandchildren in Arizona?
In Arizona, grandparents are not guaranteed visitation simply by virtue of their familial relationship. Nonetheless, if we manage to get you a court order for visitation, you definitely have the right to see that the order is enforced. Because of the complexities involved in obtaining grandparent rights in Arizona, it is essential that you engage the services of an alert, committed grandparent rights attorney to assist you. Mitchell E. Cohen has the energy and know-how to help you navigate the complicated legal pathway that will lead you to your grandchildren.
Reasons Arizona Courts Will Grant Grandparents’ Rights
Our office can help you to petition the court to create a legally enforceable right to visit your grandchildren. The Arizona Superior Court has the discretion to grant grandparents visitation rights under any of the following circumstances:
- The child’s parents have been divorced for at least 3 months
- The child’s parent has been deceased or missing for at least 3 months
- The child was born out of wedlock
Even if one or more of these criteria are met, the court will base its decision on what it considers to be in the child’s best interests. This may mean that the court will evaluate the grandparent’s stability and temperament and his/her relationship with the child in question. In some cases, we are able to petition the court to permit a grandparent to take the place of a parent who is unable to visit the child. If one parent is deceased, for example, the grandparents on that side of the family may be allowed to take over his/her visitation rights. If both parents are still alive, the court is likely to allow grandparent visitation according to which parent is caring for the child at the time. In other words, the maternal grandparents will typically be permitted visitation during the mother’s time with the child; the paternal grandparents will usually have visitation rights during the father’s time with the child.
Convincing the Court that Grandparent Visitation Is in the Child’s Best Interests
Cohen Family Law will listen to your story carefully before developing a workable strategy to convince the court that your visitation with your grandchild will be in the child’s best interests since this is always the court’s first priority. We will present evidence that:
- There is an existing positive relationship between you and your grandchild
- Your motives for having contact with your grandchild are loving and legitimate
- The parent who is trying to prevent your visitation has an ulterior or suspect motive
- Your grandchild wants to spend time with you
- Time spent with your grandchild will be beneficial to both you and the child
Fighting for a Grandparents’ Right to Custody
At Cohen Family Law we have, in some cases, petitioned the court for a grandparent’s right to custody of a grandchild. If you find yourself in a situation in which you feel certain you would provide a safer, more stable home for your grandchild than the child’s parents, we will commit ourselves to working toward that end. Though the courts are predisposed to keeping children with their parents, In the following circumstances, we stand a good chance of winning custody for you:
- Both parents have been deemed, unfit parents
- Both parents consent to giving you custody
- There has been abuse of alcohol or drugs in the home
- There has been neglect or abuse in the home
- One parent is mentally ill, addicted, incarcerated, or abusive and the other is unable to support the child
Even in these extreme circumstances, you will need an adept grandparents’ rights attorney to ensure a successful outcome of your case. In some situations, unfit parents will misrepresent themselves and their circumstances in a desperate attempt to keep custody of their child. In others, another family member (perhaps an aunt or an uncle) will also be petitioning for custody of your grandchild. One factor that may weigh heavily in your favor is if you have been in loco parentis (taking the place of the parents) prior to seeking custody. Some courts, however, will only grant a grandparent custody petition if you have been caring for the child for at least one year. The court will also consider the child’s desire to live with you an important plus.
You should be aware that your age, health, and financial circumstances will also be evaluated as part of the court’s assessment of naming you as a guardian of your grandchild. We will discuss all aspects of this information with you as we prepare for our court date so that we can be proactive and armed with appropriate documents to present when we go to court.
Contact Our Phoenix Grandparents’ Rights Attorney
You can rest assured that Mitchell E. Cohen has sharp negotiating skills and is one of the most knowledgeable family law attorneys in Arizona. Because he handles family law cases exclusively, he has a comprehensive, in-depth understanding of grandparents’ rights that will serve you well. You can reach Cohen Family Law by phone, email, or filling out one of our contact forms.