Grandparents' Rights

questions & answers

Question: My niece used drugs in the past, paid for her crimes with a jail time. Upon release she regained custody of her two boys. She cleaned up/turned her life around. She remarried and had a third child. Her mother having had the boys during her jail stay became too attached/ makes up complaints abuse even puts things in the boys. She speaks ill of my niece to the boys trying to make them resent their mother. The boys 5/7 want to be with their mom & brother. The grandmother claims abuse but only wants the two older children. She says she has grandparent rights forcing my niece to comply with her every wish. Does my niece have to let the grandmother continue to see the kids? It is causing the boys much confusion.

Answer:

To find out how the law applies to your specific situation, you may want to contact an attorney. The following is general information. Generally a parent has a right to decide who gets to visit their children. However, sometimes specific events change the general rule.

A.R.S. § 25-409 discusses visitation rights for grandparents and great-grandparents That statute says that:

A. The superior court may grant the grandparents of the child reasonable visitation rights to the child during the child's minority on a finding that the visitation rights would be in the best interests of the child and any of the following is true:

  1. The marriage of the parents of the child has been dissolved for at least three months.
  2. A parent of the child has been deceased or has been missing for at least three months. For the purposes of this paragraph, a parent is considered to be missing if the parent's location has not been determined and the parent has been reported as missing to a law enforcement agency.
  3. The child was born out of wedlock.

B. The superior court may grant the great-grandparents of the child reasonable visitation rights on a finding that the great-grandparents would be entitled to such rights under subsection A if the great-grandparents were grandparents of the child.

C. In determining the child's best interests the court shall consider all relevant factors, including:

  1. The historical relationship, if any, between the child and the person seeking visitation.
  2. The motivation of the requesting party in seeking visitation.
  3. The motivation of the person denying visitation.
  4. The quantity of visitation time requested and the potential adverse impact that visitation will have on the child's customary activities.
  5. If one or both of the child's parents are dead, the benefit in maintaining an extended family relationship.

D. If logistically possible and appropriate the court shall order visitation by a grandparent or great-grandparent to occur when the child is residing or spending time with the parent through whom the grandparent or great-grandparent claims a right of access to the child. If a parent is unable to have the child reside or spend time with that parent, the court shall order visitation by a grandparent or great-grandparent to occur when that parent would have had that opportunity.

E. A grandparent or great-grandparent seeking to obtain visitation rights under this section shall petition for these rights in the same action in which the parents had their marriage dissolved or in which the court determined paternity or maternity, or by a separate action in the county where the child resides if no action has been filed or the court entering the decree of dissolution or determination of paternity or maternity no longer has jurisdiction.

F. All visitation rights granted under this section automatically terminate if the child has been adopted or placed for adoption. If the child is removed from an adoptive placement, the court may reinstate the visitation rights. This subsection does not apply to the adoption of the child by the spouse of a natural parent if the natural parent remarries.

QUESTIONS

  • My niece used drugs in the past, paid for her crimes with a jail time. Upon release she regained custody of her two boys. She cleaned up/turned her life around. She remarried and had a third child. Her mother having had the boys during her jail stay became too attached/ makes up complaints abuse even puts things in the boys. She speaks ill of my niece to the boys trying to make them resent their mother. The boys 5/7 want to be with their mom & brother. The grandmother claims abuse but only wants the two older children. She says she has grandparent rights forcing my niece to comply with her every wish. Does my niece have to let the grandmother continue to see the kids? It is causing the boys much confusion.

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