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Family & Divorce Law

Do Grandparents Have a Legal Right to See Their Grandchildren in Colorado?

By Tolison & Williams / November 15, 2019

In most families, the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren is considered to be very special and important. Parents are usually happy to foster these. However, there are some instances when relationships can get complicated. Divorce or legal separation can create estrangements, or in some cases, those estrangements occur before that. Some parents may choose to barre the grandparents from spending time with their grandkids.

This can be heartbreaking for you, but what exactly are grandparents' rights in Colorado? Do they have a legal right to see their grandchildren? Yes, to a certain extent. 

What Rights do Grandparents Have in Colorado 

The state’s family laws do not automatically grant grandparents with any visitation rights. Their ability to see their grandchildren is usually at the parents' discretion. Thus, they do have the right to limit your visitations.

However, there are certain legal grounds when grandparents can petition the court for additional visitation. These include:

  • The parents of the child obtained a divorce, marriage annulment, or have legally separated.
  • The parent, who is the child of the grandparents, has passed away.
  • The grandchild is residing with a third party, and they have not been adopted.
  • Grandparents may also petition for custody/parental responsibilities if they have previously been responsible for the physical care of the grandchild in question for at least six months.

Grandparents who can file for visitation through the court system should be aware that they will have legal and emotional hurdles in front of them. First, Colorado family law defers to the parents. Unless there is clear evidence to the contrary, the courts presume that parents are acting in the best interest of their child, and will follow their wishes. Even in cases where visitation is granted, parents will likely exert quite a bit of control over how that happens.

In addition to this, the grandparents’ rights to visitation could be modified or eliminated if custody arrangements between the parents are changed. Grandparents may also see their visitation rights reduced or eliminated should the needs of the grandchild change as well. If the child is adopted, grandparents' rights are terminated along with the parents.

The Common Misconceptions About Grandparents Rights

There are a few common misconceptions about the rights of grandparents to visit their grandchildren that persist on both sides of the issue. These mostly fall into two areas. 

The first is the assumption on the part of the grandparents that a previously existing relationship with their grandchildren will guarantee them court-ordered visitation rights in the future. Even in those cases, the courts will usually side with the parents.

Parents, on the other hand, often make the mistake of assuming there’s nothing grandparents can do. This is untrue as well. There are absolutely cases where grandparents have been able to obtain visitation, as long as the criteria listed above have been met.

In most cases, the best thing that grandparents can do is attempt to work out these issues directly with parents. Going to court is something that could prove to be costly, and ultimately fruitless. If a grandparent believes they have a case the court will consider, they should speak to a family attorney in Colorado. A good lawyer will always advise on the best way to approach a case or suggest other viable options worth pursuing.

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Tags: Family Law Grandparent Rights

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