A.R.S. § 25-409 is the third-party rights statute. It sets two different analyses one for visitation, and another for placement and/or legal decision-making. Arizona allows third party individuals to Petition the Court for the following:
Third party cases are atypical family law cases. In a divorce or paternity case, the focus will be on the child’s best interests where both parties start on equal footing. Third parties face a different situation. In third party case, the parents have the advantage, and the scope now includes the parent’s rights. This is because a mother and father have an equal Constitutional right to the care, custody, and control of their children. A third party has no such right. These rights are protected in the third party’s right scheme by the rebuttable presumption in legal decision-making and placement cases, and the special weight provision in visitation cases.
Third Party Placement or Legal Decision-making
A.R.S. § 25-409 (A) governs third-party placements. That provision reads:
Pursuant to § 25-402, subsection B, paragraph 2,  a person other than a legal parent may petition the superior court for legal decision-making authority or placement of the child. The court shall summarily deny a petition unless it finds that the petitioner’s initial pleading establishes 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 care of either legal parent who wishes to keep or acquire legal decision-making.
3. A court of competent jurisdiction has not entered or approved an order concerning legal decision-making or parenting time 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:
(a) One of the legal parents is deceased.
(b) The child’s legal parents are not married to each other at the time the petition is filed.
(c) A proceeding for dissolution of marriage or for legal separation of the legal parents is pending at the time the petition is filed.
All four elements must be met. Otherwise, the Court must “summarily deny” the petition. We next turn to each of the four elements:
Rebuttable Presumption. If all four elements are met, the case may be set for trial. At trial, the petitioner must rebut the presumption that awarding a parent sole legal decision-making is in the child’s best interests. See A.R.S. § 25-409 (B). The petitioner must rebut this presumption with clear and convincing evidence.
 A.R.S. § 25-402(B)(2) reads: “A person other than a parent, by filing a petition for third party rights under § 25-409 in the county in which the child permanently resides.”
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