The relationship between a child and his or her grandparents can be a huge factor in that child’s happiness. Grandparents spoil us, teach us about our family’s history, give us practical skills and shower us with love.
In spite of the importance of the grandparent/grandchild relationship, in some circumstances, a grandparent is cut off from his or her grandchild because of a dispute or disagreement with the child’s parent (or parents), or because the parents choose to end their relationship, thus alienating the non-custodial parent’s family. Sometimes, those disputes are worked out and the grandparent once again gets quality time with the child, but that’s not always what happens. That doesn’t mean that all grandparents in that situation have no recourse, though. In certain situations, Colorado law grants grandparents the right to seek court-ordered visitation with their grandchildren.
It is important to note, however, that not all grandparents are legally permitted to seek visitation, nor are judges required to grant a grandparent’s visitation request. Judges make all custody and visitation decisions on the basis of the child’s best interests, so if a judge determines – after examining all evidence and facts presented – it is not in the child’s best interests to see his or her grandparents, then the request will be denied.
Relevant Colorado law
Colorado Revised Statutes section 19-1-117 provides the circumstances in which grandparents may seek visitation. Parents, in the absence of abuse, neglect or special circumstances, are presumed to have the right and ability to make decisions about who has access to their children, not every grandparent is entitled to request visitation.
Under the law, grandparents can seek visitation only if “there is or has been a custody case or a case involving the allocation of parental responsibilities” for their grandchildren. The statute further explains that there are only a few scenarios in which a visitation request will be considered:
- The marriage of the child’s parents has been dissolved (i.e. the parents have been divorced) or annulled
- The parents have legally separated
- Custody of the child has been granted to someone outside the home, or custody has been granted to someone in the home other than the child’s parent
- The child no longer lives in the same home as his or her parent
- The child’s parent (who was the child of the grandparent seeking visitation) has died
One important caveat involves adoptions. If a child has been placed for adoption (by anyone other than a stepparent), or has been legally adopted by someone else, then the grandparents have no right to seek visitation with the child.
Do you still have questions?
If you are unclear about whether or not you have the right to seek visitation with your grandchildren, don’t wait: contact an experienced Colorado family law attorney today. A lawyer can answer your questions, address your concerns, and, if you are eligible, help you file the proper paperwork and supporting documentation necessary to submit a visitation request to the court.