Family Law | Grandparent / Third-Party Rights


Grandparents Rights and Family Law Attorney in Prescott, Arizona

Grandparents Rights and Family Law Attorney in Cottonwood, Arizona


Every day it is becoming more common to see grandparents raising their grandchildren.  There are a variety of reasons for this phenomenon, most of them heartbreaking.  The child’s parents may be incarcerated, addicted to drugs, homeless, or mentally ill.

Grandparents raising their grandchildren do not inherently have the legal authority they need to do such things as enroll their grandchildren in school, sign them up for extra-curricular activities, or authorize medical treatment.  Unless that authority is granted to them by the parents through a valid power of attorney executed by the child’s parents, grandparents have to obtain that through the court.

The type of authority grandparents or other third-parties, such as aunts, uncles, and adult siblings, are able to obtain depends on the circumstances, including, but not limited to, whether and how long their grandchildren have been living with them, whether the children’s parents are married to one another, whether the children’s parents are incarcerated, or whether the children’s parents are alive.

Under certain circumstances, the best a grandparent or third-party may be able to do is obtain a Title 14 Guardianship, the weakest of all “custodial” authority.  It is the weakest because it is the easiest to set aside. All that needs to happen is for the child’s parent to tell the court he or she is ready and willing to parent their child and ask the court to terminate the guardianship.  Unfortunately, the court’s hands are tied in this situation and must comply with the parent’s request.

Under other circumstances, the grandparent or third-party may be able to obtain a more solid form of custodial authority, such as a Title 8 Guardianship or Non-Parent Legal Decision-Making.  These forms of custodial authority are not so easily set aside.  A parent seeking to terminate or modify a Title 8 Guardianship or Non-Parent Legal Decision-Making order must demonstrate at a trial that doing so would be in the child’s best interests.

If both parents are deceased or their parental rights have been terminated, a grandparent or third-party may be able to adopt the child.  Adoption is permanent. The child is no longer the grandparent’s grandchild or the third-party’s niece or nephew, but instead becomes the  grandparent’s or third-party’s legal child.  This is obviously the most solid form of custody a grandparent or third-party can obtain.

Our Prescott and Cottonwood, Arizona grandparents rights and family law attorney has assisted numerous grandparents in obtaining custodial rights over their grandchildren and has lectured on the topic of grandparents and third-party rights to grandparent groups and at continuing legal education seminars put on by the State Bar of Arizona, Yavapai County Bar Association, and National Bank of Arizona. Put our attentive, compassionate, and trusted firm to work for you by scheduling a consultation today.

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