Grandparents have rights in Colorado, but only in extremely specific circumstances. Grandparent rights are established in two steps. First, there must be qualifying circumstances as established under Colorado law. Second, the grandparent must file a motion and an affidavit to support the requested order. Grandparent rights may exist where:
- The child’s parents are divorced, in the process of divorcing, separated, or having their marriage annulled
- Custody has been given to someone else other than the child’s parents
- The child’s parent has died (this is only applicable if the parent in question is the grandparent’s child)
While those two steps seem relatively straightforward, establishing grandparent rights is more complicated. Generally, if you are a grandparent and the child’s parents are in good health, and the child lives with them, the parents have the ultimate right to choose who can spend time with them, including grandparents. Mere familial relation to the child on its own is not enough to establish custodial or visitation rights.
Colorado Grandparent Rights Attorneys
No matter the client’s side, court proceedings involving visitation and custody of children are challenging. In most cases, there are strong feelings and emotions associated with proceedings involving children. Emotions and feelings are high because there is often much at stake regarding the care and custody of a child.
Because these proceedings are so critical, those involved must have an experienced family law attorney on their side. If you have questions about your rights as a grandparent in the State of Colorado, contact our attorneys at Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC who have years of experience handling family law matters. We can help you protect your rights.
To receive quality legal representation, call (719) 328-1616 and speak with Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC. Our legal team accepts clients throughout the greater Denver metropolitan area including Jefferson County, Douglas County, Adams County, Arapahoe County, Boulder County, and Broomfield County.
- Circumstances Establishing Grandparent Rights
- Grandparent Rights Limitations
- Preventing Grandparent Visitation And Custodial Rights
- Additional Resources
Circumstances Establishing Grandparent Rights
There are several circumstances where a grandparent may qualify for visitation rights. These rights are usually triggered depending on the child’s parents’ marital status or present deficiencies or substantial disruptions to their care. Under C.R.S. § 19-1-117(1), grandparent visitation rights may exist where:
- Parents are divorced or in the process of divorce, and the court has issued custody and parenting time orders
- Legal separation
- Dependency and child neglect
- Issues involving paternity
- Probate actions in which the grandchild parent has died
- Another person who is not the child’s parent is acting as their guardian
If these circumstances are present, a grandparent may request visitation. To request that visitation, the grandparent must file a motion and an affidavit establishing that they have a request for visitation and the basis for why that visitation should be allowed. After the grandparent has filed their motion and affidavit, either you or the parents may request a hearing, where each side presents evidence supporting their positions on visitation. Ultimately, the court will decide between these two interests in favor of what is in the child’s best interest. As discussed above, there is a strong presumption in favor of the parents over anyone else. For a grandparent’s visitation motion to be granted, the grandparents must show clear and convincing evidence that it is in the child’s best interest to grant them that time over the parent’s wishes.
Grandparent Rights Limitations
Ultimately, if the grandparent’s request for child visitation is granted, the rights only allow visitation on a specific schedule, but nothing more. The decisions about the child’s upbringing and care will remain with the parents. However, grandparents may be able to make custody decisions if certain elements are met. If the grandchildren live with the grandparents for at least six months and there has not been a gap of 182 days since they lived with them, the grandparent may file an action to grant the grandparents custodial rights.
If granted, a grandparent’s custodial rights are the same as traditional parental rights. This will allow the grandparent parenting time and make decisions for the child. While the grandparent does not have to intervene in a custody case, they must submit a petition for allocation of parental responsibilities, which asks the court to award the grandparent custody of their grandchildren. As with visitation, if the child’s parents object, the grandparent must prove by clear and convincing evidence that their proposed custody schedule is in the child’s best interest, overcoming the parent’s interest in parenting their child. If the court agrees and awards the grandparent parental rights, they will have all the rights and duties that the parent would have. This means that the grandparent may make all major decisions regarding the child, including educational decisions, medical decisions, and with whom the child spends their time.
Preventing Grandparent Visitation And Custodial Rights
As discussed above, a parent’s rights generally trump anyone else’s rights concerning child custody and visitation. The Supreme Court has established that parents have the ultimate right to make those decisions unless there is some other factor that impairs or affects their ability to fulfill the duties associated with those rights. As a result, requests from grandparents to establish visitation or custody are easily overcome. Absent extreme circumstances, the courts will primarily decide in favor of the child’s parents.
Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center – The Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center handles issues involving non-parent caregivers and children. In addition, they handle cases involving the allocation of parental responsibilities, guardianship, adoption, or dependency and neglect. To apply, visit the Center’s website or call (303) 692-1165.
Divorce, Colorado Judicial Branch – Access the official website for the Colorado Judicial Branch which provides answers to frequently asked questions regarding divorce. You can also view family law forms.
Denver Grandparents Rights Lawyers | Denver County, CO
If you have questions regarding grandparents rights, speak to our qualified attorneys at Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC. Our lawyers understand and appreciate the difficult circumstances grandparents often find themselves in when family relationships are complex or strained. We will serve as your most aggressive and diligent advocate.
Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC has offices in Denver, CO and Colorado Springs, CO. Call (719) 328-1616 to arrange a confidential consultation with our legal team today.