GRANDPARENT RIGHTS IN 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 renowned family lawyers, Litvak Litvak Mehrtens and Carlton have plenty of experience dealing with grandparent rights. We’ll explain more about these rights below.
What are Grandparent Rights?
Grandparents don’t have an automatic right to see their grandchildren. In fact, grandparent 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
Grandparent 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 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