Step-Parent and Non-Parent Legal Rights

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When dealing with a family matter issue, you do not have to go at it alone. Give us a call and we can discuss the entire case during a comprehensive attorney consultation.

Let's Discuss Your Case - We're Here For You.

When dealing with a family matter issue, you do not have to go at it alone. Schedule your comprehensive attorney consultation now and we can discuss the entire case.

Step-parents often form close, loving bonds with the children they help raise. If no contact is allowed following a divorce, the consequences can sometimes be traumatic – not only for the step-parent but also the children. Under Arizona law, step-parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or other non-parents who have acted as parents to a child, have legal rights. The Arizona statutes refer to this relationship as “In loco parentis.

In loco parentis” means a person who has been treated as a parent by the child and who has formed a meaningful parental relationship with the child for a substantial period of time. To us, step-parent rights are just as much a priority as any other legal guardian.

Under certain circumstances, a non-parent may be entitled to visitation or even custody. The legal rights of these parties are contained in Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 25-415 (see below).

At the law firm of Gary J. Frank, our attorneys are avid defenders of the rights of step-parents and non-parents. Send us a message for legal representation of your step-parent rights and contact our attorneys today.

25-415. Custody by nonparent; presumption; grounds; definitions

  1. In addition to section 25-401, a child custody proceeding may be commenced in the superior court by a person other than a legal parent by filing a verified petition, or by filing a petition supported by an affidavit, in the county in which the child is permanently resident or is found. The petition shall include detailed facts supporting the petitioner’s right to file the petition. The petitioner shall provide notice as required by subsection E of this section. Notice shall include a copy of the petition and any affidavits. The court shall summarily deny a petition unless it finds that the petitioner by the pleadings established that all of the following are true:
    1. The person filing the petition stands in loco parentis to the child.
    2. It would be significantly detrimental to the child to remain or be placed in the custody of either of the child’s living legal parents who wish to retain or obtain custody.
    3. A court of competent jurisdiction has not entered or approved an order concerning the child’s custody within one year before the person filed a petition pursuant to this section, unless there is reason to believe the child’s present environment may seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health.
    4. One of the following applies:
      1. One of the legal parents is deceased.
      2. The child’s legal parents are not married to each other at the time the petition is filed.
      3. There is a pending proceeding for dissolution of marriage or for legal separation of the legal parents at the time the petition is filed.
  2. If a person other than a child’s legal parent is seeking custody there is a rebuttable presumption that it is in the child’s best interest to award custody to a legal parent because of the physical, psychological and emotional needs of the child to be reared by the child’s legal parent. To rebut this presumption that person must show by clear and convincing evidence that awarding custody to a legal parent is not in the child’s best interests.
  3. The superior court may grant a person who stands in loco parentis to a child, including grandparents and great-grandparents, and who meets the requirements of section 25-409 reasonable visitation rights to the child on a finding that the visitation is in the child’s best interests and that any of the following is true:
    1. One of the legal parents is deceased or has been missing at least three months.
    2. The child’s legal parents are not married to each other at the time the petition is filed.
    3. There is a pending proceeding for dissolution of marriage or for legal separation of the legal parents at the time the petition is filed.
  4. A grandparent, a great-grandparent or a person who stands in loco parentis to a child may bring a proceeding for visitation rights with a child by filing a verified petition in the county in which the child is permanently resident or is found.
  5. Notice of a custody or visitation proceeding filed pursuant to this section shall be served pursuant to the Arizona rules of family law procedure to all of the following:
    1. The child’s parents.
    2. A person who has court ordered custody or visitation rights.
    3. The child’s guardian or guardian ad litem.
    4. A person or agency that has physical custody of the child or that claims to have custody or visitation rights.
    5. Any other person or agency that has previously appeared in the action.
  6. A person shall file proceedings for custody or visitation under this chapter in the same action in which the legal parents had their marriage dissolved or any other proceeding in which a previous custody order has been entered regarding the child.
  7. For the purposes of this chapter:
    1. “In loco parentis” means a person who has been treated as a parent by the child and who has formed a meaningful parental relationship with the child for a substantial period of time.
    2. “Legal parent” means a biological or adoptive parent whose parental rights have not been terminated.

Client Reviews


Family Law Client

I had a very legally and emotionally difficult case and was fortunate enough to have Mr. Frank’s legal assistance. Mr. Frank was extremely professional, reliable, and competent. He always kept me informed of my case, and he gave me great legal insights. His litigation expertise and easy disposition allowed me to be comfortable and less stressed considering the situation. Mr. Frank always treated me with respect and valued my input. I felt part of a collaborative effort rather than the usual attorney-client relationship. It was a pleasure working with Mr. Frank, and I would most definitely recommend him to my friends and family.

I would recommend your services to anyone!

I am very satisfied for all you have done for me throughout my divorce and custody cases. You listened to what was important to me and you made it your number-one priority. The safety of my children meant the world to me and you helped me keep them safe. You are excellent in the courtroom. Throughout all of my court cases and different issues with my ex-husband, you helped me stay calm and grounded. I believe in our justice system since I was lucky enough to have an amazing attorney. Mr Gary Frank, you were a godsend in many ways, and every time I look at my children and know they’re safe I thank God for finding such a great attorney. I would recommend your services to anyone! Thank you once again for all your hard work.

Francesca

I feel re-born!

“I can’t tell you how much I am now enjoying my life. It sounds crazy, but I feel re-born! Of course, I have my days, but they are fewer and fewer. I spend time with family and friends and for the first time in seven plus years, I feel alive and well. I will never be able to thank you enough for all your caring and encouragement throughout this extremely stressful and challenging time in my life. I could not have managed to get through it without your support.”

Noel

A Lawyer That Cares

I chose Hannah to represent me because I know she personally invest herself into each and every client. I could tell she really cared and was ready to fight for me. When I called to schedule for a consult, Hanna received the phone call, not some lawyer’s assistant or front desk person. She has gone above and beyond what was asked of her. She knows what she’s doing. Thank you so much Hanna!

Jonathan

Excellent Lawyer!!!

I was going through a family court case & did not have a lawyer. I needed help filling out paperwork & knowing what to do in court. Mr. Frank met with me on several occasions & helped with properly filling out all of my paperwork & informing me of the correct way to file it. He gave me his cell phone # & always returned my calls promptly.

DANA

Divorce Lawyer

Gary was recommended to me by a relative. I was in a long-term abusive marriage and had had enough and was ready to put an end to it. while being “ready” I was scared to death as I was someone with low self-esteem and so afraid of how my Ex would respond. Gary gave me the courage to stand up for myself and helped me work thru my insecurities so that I was able to testify in court and breath. He walked me through all the steps of what we were going to do so that I understood. he was always ready to answer any questions/concerns I had in a timely manner (and I had a lot). I have recommended Gary to several friends going thru a divorce and I will continue to do so. I can’t thank him enough for his help and what he has done for me.

Annette

When you need better than the best

It is all about passion. Whether you play baseball, run a bakery, or practice law, you will do it better if you have passion. Hanna has that passion. She helped guide me through my trying times during my divorce and custody case. Her impeccable professionalism, humanity, and understanding as well as being tough enough to get things done were beyond what I could ever hope for. I couldn’t ask for a better attorney than Hanna. She not only cared about me, she also cared about the well-being of my daughter. I would highly recommend her to anyone.

Susan

Angels

Gary and Hanna are the most amazing and compassionate attorneys in AZ. They go above and beyond and would highly recommend them to anyone! They work with you and actually care about the well being of your children vs. Money (unlike most others). I cannot thank them enough for what they have done for my own family. Angels.

Erin

Thanks From A Confident Dad

Gary, I see your LinkedIn posts every now and then and just wanted to send you a quick note.  Wow, the last 6 years have been a whirlwind.  I just want to thank you again for the support and guidance you provided to me 6 years ago.  It has made a monumental difference in my life. My son’s mother and I made the mutual decision to move (out of state) about a year and a half ago.  Ironically, we live in the same neighborhood now, we’ve got our parenting plan at about 50% time each, and we walk him to school.  We get along, and it honestly can’t be any better.  My son is now in 1st grade, and he has a brother who is a year and a half.  In the past 6 years, I’ve evolved from the scared, immature, insecure person who sat in your office to a confident father of two boys.  Your input and guidance had a lot to do with that, so, thank you.  I do miss Arizona – in due time, hopefully, I’ll be back.

Family Law Client

Successful Relocation Case

To say I am grateful would not be giving you guys enough credit. I am humbled to have found you and blessed beyond words.

Family Law Client

I Know In My Heart I Chose The Right Attorneys To Represent Me

I appreciate all of you and all that you have done on my behalf. Most of all, I appreciate all of your moral support and your faith in me and my intentions. I know in my heart that I chose the “Right Attorneys” to represent me. I am happy that I chose wisely and trusted my heart & my ‘gut instinct.’

Valerie

Very Honest

November 2009 I retained Mr. Frank for almost two years to represent me in a visitation modification filed by my ex-husband. Mr. Frank quickly and efficiently became familiar with my case and was very honest about all the potential results that could occur. I truly feel that Mr. Frank had my children’s best interests in mind…

Judy K