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Grandparents Rights Colorado

While parents are generally the sole caretakers of children, grandparents may also have a say in visitation and custody rights. Under Colorado law, grandparents can seek visitation and even custody given the right circumstances. As respected Denver family lawyers, Litvak Litvak Mehrtens and Carlton have plenty of experience dealing with grandparents rights.

If you are a grandparent and your grandchildren’s parents are alive and well, and the children live with them, the children’s parents have the last say on whether or not you may spend time with them. This is because the US Supreme Court has stated that having custody, control, and care of one’s own children is a fundamental right, and that parents are expected to behave in their children’s best interests. As a result, parents have control over how and with whom their children spend their time. There are, however, exceptions.

Exceptions for Grandparents’ Visitation Rights

You can petition for visiting rights if the child’s parents are (1) actively divorcing or (2) have previously split, or (3) a court has issued orders regarding custody and parenting time for your grandchild. In addition to the motion, you must also file an affidavit outlining the circumstances that justify your visitation request. Your request to the court is based on the motion and the affidavit.

There are various sorts of situations that qualify and allow grandparents to intervene by filing a motion for visitation. Legal separation, annulment, allocation of parental duty, dependence and neglect, paternity, or a probate action when a child’s parent has died or someone is serving as a guardian are all examples of situations that qualify.

After you’ve filed the motion, the parents can respond with their own affidavits. If you or the parents request a hearing, the court is required to hold one, during which both parties will be asked to submit evidence to support their respective positions. In virtually all situations, a hearing will be held. The judge will next assess whether visits with you are in the best interests of the children. Because of the Supreme Court ruling, if the parent or parents protest, his or her preferences for visitation with you must be given “particular weight.”

A court can only overturn a parent’s desires if compelling and persuasive evidence defeats the assumption that the parent is acting in their child’s best interests. Despite the parents’ objections, the grandparents must demonstrate that spending time with their grandchildren is in their grandchildren’s best interests.

What are Grandparents Rights?

Grandparents don’t have an automatic right to see their grandchildren. In fact, grandparents rights did not even exist less than 40 years ago. Recognizing a child’s need for a relationship with their grandparents is a relatively new idea in many courts. 

It can be difficult for grandparents to exercise their rights in the case of the grandchild’s parents divorcing. If one of the child’s parents does not wish for the contact to occur, that can hold a lot of weight in court. However, grandparents can still seek permission from the court for contact rights. With the help of an experienced attorney, they may even be granted these rights.

The court will look at several factors when determining if they should grant this contact. These are:

  • The grandchild’s best interest
  • The benefit that having a relationship with their grandparents would have, if any
  • Family history of potential violence or abuse
  • Nature of the current relationship with the grandparents, if any
  • Any objections provided by the parent of child
  • The wishes of the grandchild

Grandparents Visitation Rights

The basis for gifting grandparents visitation rights to their grandchildren is that the child would benefit from this relationship for some reason or another. It might be that the relationship will help them to develop physically, psychologically, or emotionally. 

Grandparents may only be able to seek visitation rights under the following circumstances:

  • The parent of the child, who is the son or daughter of the grandparent in question, has died. 
    • This only applies if it was the direct child of the grandparent. It does not apply for in-laws.
  • An order has been made which distributes parental responsibility. 
  • The child is currently living with a third party that is not their adopted or biological parents. 

If one of these scenarios is not met, the grandparents may not have a means to seek visitation rights.

Custody for Grandparents

There are many cases in which grandparents get sole custody of their grandchildren. This is often due to the parents of the child being unfit to raise them. Like any custody case, though, the grandparents will not be automatically granted child custody assuming the parents are unfit. They must first prove they are qualified to raise the child and will be a suitable guardian.

Before proving their ability to raise the child, the situation must meet certain criteria to even be considered. The situations where a grandparent may get custody of the child fall under section 14-10-123 of Colorado’s Revised Statutes. These are:

  • If the child is not currently in physical care of one of the parents 
  • If the child has been in the grandparent’s custody for at least 182 days 
  • If the grandparent has been granted parental responsibilities through a juvenile court order

Grandparents’ Custody vs Grandparents’ Visitation

If the court accepts your plea for grandparent rights, the parents retain their ability to make decisions for their children. Your rights as a grandparent are to visit your grandchildren on the judge’s assigned schedule, not to make decisions for them.

You can initiate an independent action and seek the court to grant you parental duties if your grandkids reside with you and have lived with you for at least six months and no more than 60 days have passed since they last lived with you. Parenting time and decision-making authority are among the expanded rights. You are not required to intervene in an already-filed case. You must, however, file a Petition for Allocation of Parental Responsibilities with the court, requesting that the court grant you custody of your grandchildren.

If any of the children’s parents object, you must show that your proposed custody plan is in the best interests of the grandchildren via clear and compelling evidence. Once again, the law presumes that the parents are acting in the best interests of your grandkids. As a result, if the parent opposes, you must show strong proof to overturn the presumption.

If the court grants you parental obligations, you will have all of the rights and responsibilities of a parent. This implies you have complete control over your grandchildren’s lives, including educational and medical decisions. You can also choose who the kids spend time with, such as their parents or other grandparents.

How to Petition for Visitation Rights

If you wish to request visitation with your grandkids, you must first assess if you are eligible to do so. If there is an ongoing case involving the custody of the grandchildren, or if there has been a case in the past, even if it has already been resolved, you qualify.

After determining whether you are eligible to petition for grandparents’ rights, you must determine which jurisdiction the action is ongoing or was proceeding in and file an application to intervene in the case, as well as the requisite affidavit. Our firm’s attorneys deal with these matters on a regular basis. Please contact us if you have any questions.

Contact Denver Grandparents Rights Advocates

If you meet these criteria or have any other questions regarding grandparents’ rights in the state of Colorado, let us help you. With a wealth of knowledge regarding Colorado family law and Colorado divorce law, our attorneys will put you in the best position possible for your case. No matter how complex your situation, we can help. Contact Litvak Litvak Mehrtens and Carlton today to schedule a consultation. Give us a call at 303-951-4506.