Third-Party Rights (“Grandparents’ Rights”) in Arizona

Rideout Law Group can help with third party rights petitions.

Third-Party Rights in Arizona

A.R.S. 25-409 addresses the rights of non-parents to petition for court-ordered legal decision-making in the state of Arizona. It outlines the circumstances under which individuals who are not the child’s legal parents can seek legal decision-making (custody) authority or visitation rights. Here’s an explanation of third-party rights as per A.R.S. 25-409:

Petition for Legal Decision-Making (Custody):

    • Under certain conditions, a person other than a child’s legal parent may petition the court for legal decision-making authority. Legal decision-making refers to the legal authority to make significant decisions regarding a child’s upbringing, including matters related to education, healthcare, and general welfare.

Conditions for Filing a Petition:

    • The person filing the petition must establish that several conditions are true:
      • They stand in loco parentis to the child, meaning they have assumed a parental role or responsibilities.
      • It would be significantly detrimental to the child to remain with or be placed in the care of either legal parent who wishes to keep or acquire legal decision-making.
      • No court order related to legal decision-making or parenting time has been issued or approved by a court within the past year, unless there is reason to believe that the child’s current environment endangers their well-being.
      • One of the child’s legal parents is deceased, the parents are not married, or there is a pending proceeding for the dissolution of marriage or legal separation.

Presumption in Favor of Legal Parents:

    • There is a strong legal presumption that awarding legal decision-making to a legal parent is in the child’s best interests. This presumption can only be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence showing that awarding legal decision-making to a legal parent is not consistent with the child’s best interests.

Petition for Visitation:

    • Similarly, a person who is not a legal parent may petition the court for visitation rights with the child. This is particularly relevant when considering visitation by grandparents, great-grandparents, or others who have a significant relationship with the child.

Conditions for Granting Visitation Rights:

    • The court may grant visitation rights during the child’s minority if it finds that visitation is in the child’s best interests and if specific conditions are met. These conditions include situations where a legal parent is deceased, the child was born out of wedlock, the parents’ marriage has been dissolved, or there is a pending proceeding for the dissolution of marriage or legal separation.

Factors Considered:

    • When determining whether to grant visitation rights to a third party, the court considers various factors, including the historical relationship between the child and the person seeking visitation, the motivations of both parties, the quantity of visitation requested, and the potential impact on the child’s customary activities. However, the most important factor is the opinion of the legal parents regarding what will best serve their child.

Termination of Visitation Rights:

    • Visitation rights granted under this section automatically terminate if the child is adopted or placed for adoption. However, an exception exists when the child is adopted by the spouse of a natural parent after remarriage.


Petitioning for third-party rights can be challenging. Having a family law attorney from Rideout Law Group assist you through this process can mean all the difference. Our attorneys are experienced in the nuances of third-party rights issues and can guide you step-by-step.


Rideout Law Group handles cases throughout the entire state of Arizona, with offices located in Scottsdale and Lake Havasu City. Our attorneys are experienced in handling all manner of legal decision-making and visitation cases. For a free consultation, call 480-584-3328.

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