Most grandparents have deep attachments with their children and grandchildren. However, no family is protected from conflicts. Your child may be undergoing a messy divorce, lose their parental rights or worse - be no longer present on this earth. While you would wish to keep a strong connection with your grandchildren, it might become complicated from the legal standpoint.
As a state favoring the parents’ right to raise their own children, grandparents can be taken out of the family equation at a number of occasions. This post will help you understand the current laws that may apply in your case.
Understanding Grandparents Visitation Rights
Unfortunately, in Colorado, there are no automatic visitation rights granted to grandparents. You will need to file a petition to the court in either of the following cases:
- When the parent’s marriage was annulled or ended, or the couple decided to legally separate.
- When the child is in custody of a party other than the parent.
- When the either of the child’s parents has died.
To obtain your visitation rights, you will have to file a motion or affidavit in the district court in the county where your grandchild lives. Grandparents are allowed to seek visitation rights regardless of whether they have filed a custody request as well.
It’s advisable to consult with an Adams county child custody attorney or a local specialist before you proceed with any legal action.
Grandparents Visitation Rights If The Family is Intact
According to the current Colorado laws, grandparents may not seek visitation rights with grandchildren when:
- Both of the children’s natural parents are alive.
- And/or there have been no prior family court actions filed.
Based on the Troxel v. Granville case, the Colorado Courts ruled that allowing grandparents visitation rights against the child's parent will violate the Constitutional right of a parent to raise a child.
Natural parent(s) are always presumed to be acting in their children’s’ best interests, and obtaining grandparent visitation rights will be hard without having a solid case to prove the opposite.
Currently, the court can only grant you the visitation rights if you provide clear and convincing evidence that the parents’ visitation decision is not in the child’s best interest. Obtaining visitation rights will be far from easy and you will have to make a strong case together with your attorney.
It’s also important to note that grandparent visitation rights may be modified/terminated by the court at any time based on the best interests of a child.
Grandparents Visitation Rights After Adoption
Different adoption procedures assume different visitation rights for grandparents.
If a child was adopted by a stepparent (for instance, the mother’s new spouse), parental grandparents will keep their visitation rights.
However, if the child’s parent no longer has custody (due to the court decision), the parental grandparents' visitation rights are terminated as well. For instance, if your son divorces his wife and loses the custody rights, you won’t be able to visit your grandchildren without obtaining a court ruling in your favor.
If a person other than the child’s stepparent decided to adopt a child, you will not be granted the visitation rights automatically. Even adoption by a close relative such as the child’s aunt, cousin or uncle servers grandparent visitation rights.
There is an important exception, however. If the child is adopted after his parents’ death by a close relative such as maternal aunt or uncle, Colorado laws will keep the grandparent’s visitation rights intact.
If you need help with understanding your current rights and get legal guidance on your case, you can reach out to one of our attorneys by phone or email.