Arizona is unusual in that it is specifically grants great-grandparents the same rights as grandparents. Those rights are, however, fairly rigidly defined. One of these conditions must be met: the marriage of the parents of the child must have been dissolved for at least three months, a parent must be deceased, a parent must have been officially declared missing for at least three months or the child must have been born out of wedlock.
As in all states, the court must determine the best interest of the child, considering such issues as any historical relationship between the grandparent and child, the motivation of the person requesting visitation, the motivation of the person denying visitation, the quantity of time requested and the possible adverse impact that visitation will have on the child's customary activities. In addition, in the case of the death of a parent, the court may consider the benefits of maintaining a relationship with the extended family. Petitions for visitation rights can be filed as part of divorce or paternity proceedings, if either is held. Otherwise, the grandparents can petition the court separately for visitation.
Like most states, Arizona faced a challenge that its law was unconstitutional following the U.S. Supreme Court case of Troxel. v. Granville. The Arizona Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Arizona statute in Jackson v. Tangreen. The court also upheld Arizona's law stating that adoption terminates visitation rights unless the adopting party is a stepparent. The parents in the case -- the natural mother and an adoptive stepfather -- had argued that it is unconstitutional to discriminate between two-parent adoptions and stepparent adoptions, but the court found that there is little need for a "clean break" or "fresh start" in stepparent adoptions as there may be in two-parent adoptions. The U.S. Supreme Court was asked to hear Jackson v. Tangreen but declined.
See Arizona Statute 25-409 on the Web.
Go back to grandparents rights by state.