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Arizona grandparents' rights: how to stay involved with grandkids

A relatively new movement is gathering steam in Arizona and elsewhere. More and more grandparents are seeking visitation rights and more with grandchildren and, in jurisdictions where they seemingly have no protection, are spearheading drives to change the law.

Grandparents' rights have come about as the marriages of their sons or daughters have failed. In some situations, their offspring have moved back home; in others, grandparents have become involved in child custody proceedings, seeking to maintain the bond they have formed with their grandchildren.

While each situation is different, there are some tips that may be helpful to grandparents as they attempt to navigate an admittedly slippery slope. Stay neutral, stay connected and stay on message. That three-pronged approach may help keep caring grandparents involved while also guarding their pocketbooks and maintaining the lifestyle they want.

The grandchild at the center of a divorce has likely already felt the tension between the parents. There is no sense in adding to it by offering opinions about the parties, even in the face of questions from children about when things will be okay once again. Rather than making personal attacks or defending bad behavior, the focus is more appropriately put on the parents' decision to live apart and the fact that the children are still very much loved by parents and grandparents alike. Indeed, it is even possible that today's spat between the parents could segue into tomorrow's reconciliation, making neutrality all the more important.

The emotional turmoil that an Arizona divorce often brings likely means that the parents are not truly focused on visitations with grandma and grandpa. While continuing to stay as neutral as possible, offers to help out with caring for the children or attending events and activities may be helpful. This is best accomplished in a spirit of cooperation, so that a parent does not worry that an in-law may be planting seeds of negativity.

In child custody disputes, courts make decisions based on the best interests of the children. To the extent that grandparents can see their interactions with the child from that perspective, they are more likely to stay on message. In other words, don't shower them with gifts to win them over. Grandparents' rights protection is a growing segment of the law, and those that are able to keep the focus on what is best for the grandkids are likely to come out ahead.

Source:, "Grandparents and divorce: Tips for helping your grandchild," July 1, 2012

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DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC and founding attorney DeShon Laraye Pullen received many prestigious honors, including: Small Firm of the Year, Family Law Litigator of the Year, selection to Arizona Super Lawyers and a Superb, 10.0 Avvo rating.

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