Visitation

questions & answers

Question:

I cohabitated with my domestic partner (DP) age 54 for 16 years.  To our friends and co-workers, we were a married couple.  Then, five years ago, my DP started a sexual relationship with a female co-worker, age 28.  The affair took on a whole new situation four years ago when she gave birth to a baby girl.  When teh baby was approximately six months old, I wanted to meet the child because my DP and I had remained together.  As it turned out, I fell in love with her as the months and years rolled by and, for the most part, my DP, the child, and I were a happy family on visiting days.  Nine weeks ago, he moved with her.  Can I ask for vistation in court?

Answer:

In Arizona, non-parents can only receive parenting time under very limited circumstances.  First, one of four things must be established before a court will even consider a petition by a non-parent for parenting time: (1) one fo the legal parents is deceased or has been missing for three months; (2) the child was born out of wedlock and the legal parents are not married when the petition is filed; (3) for grandparent visitation, the marriage fo the parents has been dissolved for at least three months; or (4) for in loco parentis visitation, a petition for divorce or legal separation is pending at the time the parenting time petition is filed.  A.R.S. 25-409(C).  In loco parentis is defined by statute as "a person who has been treated as a parent by a child and who has formed a meaningful parental relationship with a child for a substantial period of time."  A.R.S. 25-401

If any of these requirements are met, then a court will consider a parenting-time petition.  However, the court will use the same standard as used in all parenting time decisions, the best interests of the child.  The "best interests of the child" standard requires the court to consider "all factors relevant to the child's physical and emotional well-being."  A.R.S. 25-403.  In addition to making its own determination of the child's best interests, the court must also give "special weight" to the legal parents' opinions of what serves teh child's best interests. A.R.S. 409(E).  This means that it will be difficult for a non-parent to acquire parenting-time rights over the objections of the legal parents. 

QUESTIONS

  • I cohabitated with my domestic partner (DP) age 54 for 16 years.  To our friends and co-workers, we were a married couple.  Then, five years ago, my DP started a sexual relationship with a female co-worker, age 28.  The affair took on a whole new situation four years ago when she gave birth to a baby girl.  When teh baby was approximately six months old, I wanted to meet the child because my DP and I had remained together.  As it turned out, I fell in love with her as the months and years rolled by and, for the most part, my DP, the child, and I were a happy family on visiting days.  Nine weeks ago, he moved with her.  Can I ask for vistation in court?

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