In Arizona and other states, courts have upheld the legal rights of grandparents when parental divorce threatens these grandparents’ ongoing relationships with their grandchildren. Visitation rights granted to persons other than parents are described as ‘in loco parentis” rights, derived from the Latin term meaning ‘in place of parents.” ‘In loco parentis” is a broad term that applies to any legal relationship between a child and an adult that is not the child’s parent.
Grandparents seek in loco parentis rights in a wide range of circumstances. When a child is removed from a dangerous household and placed in the custody of the state, for example, a grandparent has the right to sue for custody. Grandparents have also sued for visitation rights in situations where they have become alienated from their own adult children and their adult children have refused to let them have contact with their sons or daughters. Cases can also involve divorce where a former son-in-law or daughter-in-law with physical or legal custody refuses a grandparent access to the children.
Even in cases where a legal relationship may not exist, titular grandparents may have rights. Should a same-sex couple with adopted children separate, for example, where only one member of the couple is listed as the adoptive parent, the parents of the partner who has no legal relationship to the children may still have the right to seek visitation.
Grandparent visitation rights may differ from state to state, and even courts in the same state may interpret existing statutes and common law very differently. Every state, however, will use the standard of ‘the best interests of the child.” Someone considering seeking custody or visitation rights can view our page on grandparents’ rights for more information.
Source: Centuori & Alcoverde, “Tucson Grandparents’ Rights Lawyer“, October 01, 2014