Arizona Nonparent Custody Rights

Arizona Nonparent Custody Rights

Arizona Nonparent Custody Rights: Seeking Custody When You Are Not the Child’s Legal Parent

Most custody disputes involve a child’s parents, but sometimes another relative, foster parent,  or family friend may petition the court for custody. This is commonly a grandparent, but it can be another person who has a strong bond with the child. Nonparents seeking custody in Arizona balance their concerns about the child’s well-being with their worries about securing custody since they aren’t parents. A good lawyer can ease concerns while they evaluate, review, organize, and present the case.

What does a grandparent or other relative have to prove to get custody?

The grandparent or person seeking custody must show that he has a strong bond with the child, and stands “in loco parentis” because the bond mirrors a parent-child relationship. The child must treat the nonparent as a parent, and the relationship must span a substantial timeframe.

The court presumes “it is in the best interest of the children” for parents to have custody of their children and care for them. Thus, it can be difficult for a nonparent to obtain custody. In order to counter this presumption, the nonparent or grandparent must show by “clear and convincing evidence” that the legal parents shouldn’t have custody.

A.R.S. 25-409 lays out how a nonparent can file a verified petition, or one supported by an affidavit. It must be filed in the county where the child resides or is located. The petition must include the information required by A.R.S 25-409, or the court will dismiss it.

A.R.S. 25-409 specifically states that you must show:

  • That it would be significantly detrimental to the child to remain or be placed in the care of either legal parent who wishes to keep or acquire legal decision-making
  • A court of competent jurisdiction has not entered or approved an order concerning legal decision-making or parenting time within one year before the person filed a petition pursuant to this section, unless there is reason to believe the child’s present environment may seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health.

A.R.S. 25-409 is a long statute, and interpreting it, to your benefit as a nonparent, is going to require an experienced attorney.

Since the court presumes that a child should be in the custody of his biological or adoptive parents, you need an attorney who knows the laws pertaining to custody rights and has experience obtaining custody for nonparents and grandparents.

The attorneys at Enholm Law can evaluate the details of the child’s current custody situation and your relationship with the child. Their honest assessment and preparation can  help you get the custody results you want. Contact our office today at (602) 889-6273 to learn more about nonparent custody rights.