Under certain circumstances, Arizona law allows for a person who has a significant and longstanding relationship with a child(ren) to request legal rights including legal decision making (custody) or parenting time (visitation).

In order to qualify for third party rights certain conditions must be met.

These include, but are not limited to, the parents of the children are unmarried, divorced, or a parent is deceased and there has not been a recent legal action involving the children. Even when a party requesting third party rights meets the legal criteria, the court is required to give special weight to a fit parent’s choice regarding whether to involve a third party in their children’s lives.

How to Obtain Legal Decision-Making Rights for Children in Arizona

To obtain legal decision-making rights (custody), the third party must demonstrate that child’s present environment may seriously endanger the children’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health. The legal criteria for visitation, is more relaxed and can, under certain circumstances, be obtained by simply proving that time with the third party who has played a significant role in the children’s life is in the children’s best interest. Depending upon the circumstances, the use of an expert may significantly increase the likelihood of successfully requesting or defending against a third-party claim. Depending upon the rights sought, the court will consider the relationship between the person seeking third party rights and the children, the motivation for the individual seeking third party rights, the motivation of the parent objecting, the quantity of the visitation requested, and the impact of visitation or lack thereof.

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