Sheehan v. Flower

In Sheehan v. Flower, 217 Ariz. 39, 217 Ariz. 39, 170 P.3d 288 (App. 2007), a grandmother was awarded visitation with a mother's child. 217 Ariz, at 40, P 3, 170 P.3d at 289. When the mother notified the grandmother that she was going to leave the state, the grandmother, pursuant to A.R.S. 25-408, moved the superior court to prevent the mother from relocating with the child. Id. at P 4; see A.R.S. 25-408(D) ("Within thirty days after notice is made the nonmoving parent may petition the court to prevent relocation of the child.") The superior court declined, concluding that 25-408 does not permit a grandparent to contest relocation, and then proceeded to establish a schedule for the grandmother's visitation. Sheehan, 217 Ariz, at 40, PP 6-7, 170 P.3d at 289. The Court affirmed the superior court's decision that the statute did not allow a grandparent to prevent relocation, concluding that the word "parent" as used in A.R.S. 25-408 is unambiguous and refers only to biological or adoptive parents, not to grandparents. Id. at P 13. Thus, the Court held that 25-408 "does not apply to grandparent visitation and the Grandmother was not entitled to enforce her visitation rights under it." Id. at P 18. In Sheehan, therefore, the Court simply concluded that a grandparent may not enforce visitation rights through a statutory mechanism conferred only upon "parents." See id. In Sheehan, the Court made clear that a grandparent's inability to contest relocation pursuant to A.R.S. 25-408 did not leave the grandparent without recourse when a relocating parent violated a visitation order: Grandmother contends that interpreting A.R.S. 25-408 as excluding non-parents would effectively leave grandparents without a remedy when their court-ordered visitation rights are violated. However, 25-414 sets forth a number of remedies a court may employ if a parent has refused without good cause to comply with a visitation or parenting time order. Sheehan, 217 Ariz, at 43, P 17, 170 P. 3d at 292. The Court also reiterated that "a court may exercise its inherent contempt power to remedy a violation of a court order." Id.