In 2013 Arizona’s grandparent visitation statute was consolidated with our in loco parentis statute. The new terminology is “third party rights” and the statute is ARS 25-409. The idea is to allow a third party, including but not limited to a grandparent or great grandparent, to petition the court to determine custody, visitation and/or legal decision making rights for a minor child. The court recognizes that family life is all too often fractured and non-traditional. Children receive care and emotional and financial support from many persons other than their parents. Parents are sometimes unavailable or ineffective due to illness, absence or substance abuse.
A petition for grandparent or other third party rights should be filed in the existing family law case involving the children if one exists.
The Petition must be well thought out. The statute provides that a Petition shall be summarily denied unless the initial pleading establishes that all of the following circumstances are true:
- The petitioner stands “in loco parentis” to the children;
- It would be very detrimental to the children to be placed or remain in the care of the legal parent who wants to keep the children; and
- No court has entered orders concerning the care of the child in the past year unless a true emergency exists