In certain situations, a non-parent may be eligible to petition the court for child custody rights or visitation. These rights are sometimes referred to as “third party rights” or informally as “grandparents rights” when sought by biological grandparents. Rights and visitation should be thought of separately because they are treated very differently by family courts in most jurisdictions. Our experienced family lawyers have successfully established and defended against third party rights and visitation.
Generally speaking, it is much more difficult to establish rights than it is to establish visitation. Petitions for legal rights unavoidably involve complex Constitutional implications. These cases are met with a very challenging burden of proof. Conversely, family courts award third party visitation, particularly grandparents visitation, more liberally. However, it is still important to understand that these requests are not unconditionally granted and visitation is not an absolute right in most jurisdictions, even for biological grandparents. The family court still must find that visitation is in the best interests of the children.
Though they are controlled by the same statute in Arizona (A.R.S. § 25-409), the criteria and qualification for rights and visitation are very different. Contact our experienced family lawyers for a free consultation to discuss third party rights or any other family law issue.