As the best child custody lawyers in Gilbert AZ we often get asked, “what are grandparents rights in Arizona?” This is an issue that a lot of people come to me and ask about and it’s a little unsure on where Arizona statutes are as far as grandparent rights. Well let me tell you a story. A young grandma grandpa came into my office, they were probably late forties, early fifties and they had some concerns about their grandchild. This child had been living with them throughout the child’s life, about seven years, and the child’s parents had gotten a divorce a few years before. The reason for their divorce was the mother had been involved in some criminal activities and had been arrested and was no longer able to be around the minor child and father had continued to live with grandma and grandpa and had taken care of this child but really had left the parenting responsibilities up to grandma and grandpa, and the child had been essentially raised by his grandparents.
Well father decided that he wanted to move out of the state and kind of had a falling out with his parents, and so father took the child and moved out of state and my clients, grandma and grandpa, had talked to a different attorney who had told them there was nothing they could do. They’d found out that the mother had filed something taking them back to court and they had just had a hearing the week before, and they came to me and said: “Hey, what’s going on here? You know- we’ve been involved in the child’s life, he’s been gone for about four months, we don’t know where they’re at, they’re out of state. We don’t know. Now we find out the mother who’s a criminal, who has got some criminal history, is now seeking rights and we want to protect this child.” So they came to me and they asked me: “What can we do?” and I said, “Well, the advice you got was bad. I wouldn’t have done it that way. I would have done it a little differently, but let’s get in there right now and file something.” So we filed to intervene as grandparents, and since they had already had the hearing, we had asked for a new hearing.
We asked for a temporary orders hearing. And we had to wait a couple months until we had a temporary orders hearing. In the meantime, we found out that the judge had ordered the father to bring the children back to Arizona and to allow the parenting time to continue. Now remember, mother was a criminal so her parenting time was supervised. And the child didn’t really have a great relationship with the father, so the judge was left with this impossible task of figuring out: “Who should I put this child with?” And interestingly enough, both mother and father didn’t mention that grandparents were so involved. So when I came into the case- the judge had place the child with an aunt and uncle who lived in a different city, so we asked the judge to take the child away from where he was living now and going to school now, and put him back with grandma and grandpa. Well the judge was reluctant to do that, because the child was already back in school and was making some progress. And so on temporary orders, the judge said no, but the judge did do the smart thing and said: “Okay, we’re gonna have some parenting time for grandparents.” Then we had a trial set up a little bit later.
We came back to the trial and we had all of our evidence at that point. Because of the temporary orders hearing, you typically don’t have as much time to put on all of the evidence. We brought on all the evidence and we were able to successfully convince the court that this is what needs to happen. The grandparents had essentially raised this child from his birth and had been so important and integral to this child’s life, that the child should be returned with grandma and grandpa. We were able to win that case and the judge smartly found that the aunt and uncle who had been spending time with the child shouldn’t be cut out of the child’s life completely and that the father who was living out of state shouldn’t be cut out completely and the mother shouldn’t be cut completely. But really this case was about where the child should primarily reside and who should make the decisions for this child.
Well, because my clients came to me and were able to talk about it and understand how third party grandparent rights work in Arizona, we were able to convince a judge to put things back to where they should be, also ensuring that the child had a relationship with his father, had a relationship with his mother and had a relationship with the other people who are important in his life, but that he primarily resided with his grandma and grandpa and they were able to make the decisions. There are a lot of complicated issues in these kind of cases where you’re dealing with third party rights or grandparent rights, and it’s important to talk to a lawyer who understands how the law works and who will give you your options so that you and your lawyer together, can make the decisions. Come and see me, we’re here at the law offices of Kevin Jensen and we’ll sit down with you, we’ll take time to understand your situation and to explain the laws that would apply to you.
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