What does a Third-Party mean?
A third-party is a person who is not the child’s legal parent; this can include grandparents, other relatives, or even family friends. This person can complete a petition to obtain legal decision-making authority (custody) over a minor child.
For the Court to consider the petition for 3rd party rights to include legal decision-making (custody), the person who completed the petition must meet all these criteria:
- The person filing the petition stands in loco parentis to the child.
- 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 had not entered or approved an order concerning legal decision-making or parenting time within one year before the person filed a petition according to this section unless there is reason to believe the current child environment may seriously endanger the child physical, mental, moral, or emotional health.
- One of the following applies:
(a) One of the legal parents is deceased.
(b) The child’s legal parents are not married to each other when the petition is filed.
(c) A proceeding for dissolution of marriage or the legal separation of the legal parents is pending when the petition is filed.
In general, this process is quite complex without having an experienced lawyer by your side to help you. In Arizona, legal decision-making is given to parents due to a child’s connection with their parents. Thus, the person completing the petition must bring valid and strong arguments to prove that the parents do not care about the child’s interests.
Also, any person who is not the child’s legal parent can petition to visit the child. For the Court to grant him this right, he must prove that it is in the best interests of the child and that he fulfills all the following conditions:
- One of the legal parents is deceased or has been missing for at least three months. A parent is considered missing if the parent’s location has not been determined and the parent has been reported as missing to a law enforcement agency.
- The child was born out of wedlock, and the child’s legal parents are not married to each other when the petition is filed.
- For grandparent or great-grandparent visitation, the marriage of the child’s parents has been dissolved for at least three months.
- For in loco parentis visitation, a proceeding for dissolution of marriage or the legal separation of the legal parents is pending when the petition is filed.
While these situations can become stressful, having experienced and knowledgeable Arizona attorneys to assist you every step of the way is beneficial. Reppucci & Roeder are here to help. Call us today at (480) 418-6420 for your free consultation.