When family circumstances or parental custody changes, grandparents are sometimes left wondering if they could remain part of their grandchildren’s lives. In some cases, they may even feel as if they should take on the role of the primary caregiver or at least secure regular visitation rights. However, the legal system in Colorado does not give many options for grandparents' rights in Colorado in child custody cases. The motion to intervene is the main legal mechanism grandparents can use to present their claims to the court.
Is There a Path to File for Grandparents' Rights in Colorado?
A motion to intervene, under Rule 24 of the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure, allows someone who isn’t a parent to become a party in an open custody case. Grandparents can file this type of motion either during a divorce case that involves determining parenting arrangements, or they can intervene in the proceedings for stepparent adoption.
However, the motion to intervene has its limits. Grandparents can only file it when:
- A new child custody arrangement is discussed as part of a divorce, separation, or annulment.
- There is a juvenile case regarding paternity or custody.
- The parent related to the grandparent passed away and there’s an open custody case in the court.
Unfortunately, the laws limit grandparents from intervention if the parental marriage is intact, the child has been adopted by non-family members, or the related parent’s rights have been terminated.
How to File an Emergency Motion for Child Custody in Colorado
Whether you are looking for the right to visit your grandchildren or trying to learn how to file an emergency motion to get child custody, remember: you can only file the motion to intervene if there is currently an open child custody case in court.
- If so, you’ll first need to fill in the official form with all the requested details and file it with the court. The judge will then determine whether the case will proceed and issue an order to intervene. Once the order is granted, you have a green light for pursuing your case.
- To follow up, you'll have to file a pleading affidavit — a supporting document that explains why you should be given visitation time. You should also detail when visitation will occur, under what circumstances, and how transportation will be arranged. There’s also a space on the form to describe any restraining orders or emergency protection orders that are in place.
- Afterward, the court will review your case and issue an order for grandparent visitation. The order will state whether your plea was granted. In case of success, the order will also detail all the visitation arrangements.
What Can Impact the Outcome of a Grandparent's Motion to Intervene in Colorado?
Most Colorado judges will presume that the parents are best qualified to make any decisions regarding the child’s life. Basically, the parents don’t have to prove they are capable of making choices regarding visitation or custody. Instead, the grandparents must convince the courts that no harm will be done if they are granted visitation.
If the related parent is deceased, the grandparent must also prove that the living parent should not be given full autonomy to decide if the child should visit their grandparents or not.
Also, a Colorado court may take some other factors into account when determining grandparent custody:
- The relationship between the grandparents and the child's parent(s).
- How involved the grandparent has been in their grandchild’s life.
- The amount of time the child has spent being physically cared for by their grandparent.
- Whether the requested visitation is reasonable.
To better understand the filing process and build a stronger case, get in touch with an experienced family law attorney. They will be likely to provide professional advice regarding the likely outcome of a motion to intervene and help ensure the best chance of success.