Third Party Rights: If you are Seeking Visitation and Custody Rights as a Grandparent or Step-Parent, the Phoenix Attorneys at Sheldon & Stoutner are here to help.
Children often form close bonds with adults other than their biological, legal, or adoptive parents. These adults include grandparents, step-parents, adult siblings, uncles, aunts, relatives, and others. Arizona law A.R.S. §25-409 addresses visitation and decision-making options for these third parties who can play such a significant role in a child’s life.
Obtaining Custody as a Third Party
The Latin term “in loco parentis” means “in the place of a parent.” Individuals that stand “in loco parentis” have formed a meaningful relationship with a child and wish to continue that relationship. However, the Constitution and the US Supreme Court protect parental rights first and foremost. This results in a difficult case for a third party wishing to obtain decision-making rights and visitation rights (like those awarded to parents). The burden of proof in these cases lies with the requesting third party to meet certain threshold requirements. To meet his or her burden, a third party’s petition must discuss his/her history and role with the child, as well as the detriment to the child if he/she stays in the care of the biological parent.
Visitation for Non-Parents
At times, third parties need the Court’s assistance to ensure they may regularly see the children they care about – this is called visitation. Visitation refers to physical time spent with a child. To reach a decision on visitation, the court considers the opinion of the legal parent(s), as well as:
- The relationship history between the child and the third party
- The third party’s motivation or reason for requesting visitation
- The motivation behind any objections to visitation
- How much visitation time is requested, and the impact on the child’s schedule
- Any benefits to maintaining an extended-family relationship when one or both legal parents have died
The attorneys at Sheldon & Stoutner have more than three decades of experience representing step-parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles as they seek visitation and even custody over the children they love. We are here to help every step of the way, and will fight for you.