Speak Up! - View Question #25195
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Question: I am 15 years old and I'm being emotionaly abused by my mother. My dads house isnt an option. Is there a way to get custody to my grandparents? Or do I have to get emancipated before I can freely live with them?
Answer: First, I am sorry that you are having a hard time. It's not easy to be 15! Concerning your question, the law generally provides that biological parents have a superior right to raise their own children above even the interest of grandparents. It is possible for a grandparent to ask the family court for visitation with a grandchild (ARS 25-409), or even custody (ARS 25-415). But it takes quite a bit of legal wrangling, and it often fails - especially in a lawsuit for custody.
In order for a grandparent to demand custody, s/he must show all of the following: (1) the grandparent has been treated as a parent by the child in the past, and has formed a meaningful parental relationship with that child for a substantial period of time; (2) it would be significantly detrimental to the child to remain with a biological parent who wishes to retain custody; (3) at least one year has expired since the last custody order, unless there is a reason to believe that the current environment may seriously endanger the child's physical, mental, moral or emotional health; and (4) the biological parents are not married, a divorce petition is pending between the parents, or one of the parents is deceased. In other words, it takes more than proving that your mother is a tough disciplinarian or "nags" you a lot. If it were that easy, millions of teenagers across the country would demand a new parent! You basically have to demonstrate that her emotional abuse is, for example, plainly cruel and destructive. Before you venture down that path, perhaps you should consider asking your mother to join you in counseling. It costs a lot less, and - when people participate willingly - can often produce terrific results!