Sheehan v. Flower – 11/13/2007

November 16, 2007

Arizona Court Of Appeals Division One Holds That Grandparents Are Not Entitled To Rights Under A.R.S. § 25-408 To Object To A Custodial Parent’s Out Of State Relocation.

Kiley Sheehan “was awarded sole legal custody and primary physical custody of her minor child.” The child’s grandmother, Lou Ann Flower, was granted visitation. When Sheehan told Flower that she would be moving out of state with the child, Flower filed a motion with the superior court to prohibit Sheehan’s move. Flower relied upon A.R.S. § 25-408, which grants procedural protections to the nonmoving “parent” of the child. The superior court denied the motion because it concluded that “A.R.S. § 25-408 does not apply to grandparent visitation rights . . . .” Flower appealed.

The Arizona Appeals Court affirmed the superior court’s determination that A.R.S. § 25-408 does not protect grandparents. It concluded that “on its face, the statute requires that advance notice and related rights be afforded only to a ‘parent’ whose custody or ‘parenting time’ will be impacted by a custodial parent’s relocation.” It reasoned that the ordinary meaning of the term, similar statutes, and case law all define “parent” as distinct from, or expressly excluding, “grandparent.” Therefore, the plain language of “[s]ection 25-408 does not apply to grandparent visitation, and [Flower] was not entitled to enforce her visitation rights under it.”

Judge Norris authored the opinion; Judges Irvine and Weisberg concurred.