Do Grandparents Have Child Custody Rights?

Being a grandparent is very rewarding for many people. That’s why it’s understandable that grandparents would want to know what rights they have regarding custody or visitation with respect to their grandchildren. Arizona law does allow what is called “third-party rights”. Essentially, a third party can apply to get custody of a child under certain circumstances. For example, if they feel the child’s parents or legal guardian(s) are not capable of making safe, sound judgments, and the child could be in danger, they can petition the court for custody. Their case has to meet a laundry list of factors, and they need to show “clear and convincing evidence” that the child would be better off in their care.

Do Grandparents Get Visitation?

Much like custody matters, grandparents can file for visitation rights with the court. At least one of the following factors must be met:

  1. One of the legal parents is deceased;
  2. The legal parents of the child were never married; or
  3. The legal parents were married and have been divorced for at least three months.

The court will consider many elements when determining grandparent visitation rights, including:

  • The relationship between the grandparents and the child;
  • The reason the grandparents have filed the petition;
  • If anyone objects to the petition, the reason behind their objection;
  • The amount of visitation requested and what kind of impact that time will have on the child’s schedule; and
  • Whether or not it behooves the child to maintain a relationship with their extended family (generally a factor considered if one or more of the child’s legal parents is deceased).

If possible, the court will schedule the grandparent’s visitation during the times the child is with the related parent. For example, the child’s visitation with his maternal grandparents will coincide with the time the child is residing at his mother’s home.

Can Grandparent’s Rights Automatically Terminate?

Grandparent’s visitation rights do not automatically terminate when a child moves away. In this situation, a grandparent could ask the court to modify the visitation schedule. The court will review the change and decide if it’s in the child’s best interest to continue visitation after they have relocated.

In the event that the child is adopted, the grandparent’s visitation rights would be automatically terminated. However, this does not happen if a legal parent remarries and the child’s stepparent adopted them.

Talk to A Divorce Attorney

Visitation and custody rights can get tricky for anyone who is not a child’s legal parent or guardian. The divorce attorneys at Udall Shumway, PLC have considerable experience with these areas. We are available to talk about your situation and help you request visitation so you can continue to enjoy your relationship with your grandchildren.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Grandparents Have Child Custody Rights, or any other family law issue, please feel free to contact Sheri D. Shepard at 480.461.5300, log on to, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.