Grandparents' Rights in Colorado: Maintaining Connections with Your Grandchildren

April 4, 2024

In Colorado, grandparents play a vital role in the lives of their grandchildren. This bond can provide children with stability, love, and support. But what happens when circumstances change, and grandparents worry about their ability to see their grandchildren? Understanding grandparents' rights in Colorado can help navigate these situations.

Can Grandparents Request Visitation in Colorado?a photo of two grandparents holding hands with their grandchild

The good news is that, yes, Colorado law gives grandparents the right to request visitation with their grandchildren under specific circumstances. These situations include:

  • Changes in Parental Relationships: If the child's parents go through a divorce, legal separation, or annulment, grandparents can seek visitation rights.
  • Alternative Custody Arrangements: When someone other than the biological parents has custody of the child, grandparents may also request visitation.
  • Loss of a Parent: Grandparents can seek visitation if one or both biological parents have passed away.

Keep in mind there are specific situations where a grandparent might not be able to obtain visitation from the court, such as when:

  • The parent's parental rights have been terminated.
  • The child has been placed for adoption, or the adoption has been completed legally.

Essential Considerations for Visitation Requests

While Colorado law allows grandparents to request visitation, it's crucial to understand that the court prioritizes the child's best interests. Here are some factors a judge might consider when deciding a visitation case:

  • The existing relationship between the child and the grandparents
  • The child's age and maturity level
  • The child's wishes (if the child is old enough to express them)
  • Any potential harm the visitation could cause the child
  • The history of the relationship between the grandparents and the parents

What Happens if Parents Violate Grandparents' Visitation Rights?

In Colorado, grandparents' visitation rights are recognized under certain circumstances, primarily when it is deemed to be in the best interest of the child. If parents violate these court-ordered visitation rights, here are some of the legal consequences they may face.

  • Contempt of Court: If a parent denies court-ordered visitation to the grandparents without a valid reason, they could be found in contempt of court. Contempt of court refers to any action that defies, disrespects, or obstructs the authority of the court. Violating a court order regarding grandparents' visitation rights falls under this category.
  • Enforcement Proceedings: Upon a finding of contempt, the court may initiate enforcement proceedings to ensure compliance with the visitation order. This may involve imposing fines, ordering makeup visitation time for the grandparents, or even modifying custody arrangements better to protect the child's relationship with their grandparents.
  • Modification of Custody: Persistent violations of grandparents' visitation rights may prompt the court to reconsider the existing custody arrangement. Suppose it is determined that the child's best interests would be served by granting the grandparents more visitation time or even awarding them partial custody. In that case, the court may modify the custody order accordingly.

Seeking Custody: When Grandparents Can Step Up

In some situations, Colorado law allows grandparents to seek custody of their grandchildren. These circumstances are more specific than those for visitation requests or a violation of the grandparents' visitation rights. They involve the child's well-being potentially, being at risk. Here are the primary scenarios:

  • Child Removal and Foster Care: If a child is removed from their parent's or guardian's house and placed in foster care, grandparents can seek custody if they've been providing the child's primary care.
  • Established Caregiver Status: Grandparents who have been the child's primary caregiver for a significant period can petition for custody.
  • Recent and Substantial Caregiving: If a grandparent has provided the child with physical care for at least six months within the past six months, they may have grounds for seeking custody.

Timeframes for Grandparent Visitation Requests in Colorado

While Colorado law allows grandparents to seek visitation with their grandchildren, there's no guaranteed timeframe for the process. The duration can vary depending on multiple factors:

  • Reaching an Agreement: Ideally, grandparents can reach an agreement with the child's parents regarding visitation outside of court. This can be the quickest route, potentially taking weeks or even days if both parties are cooperative.
  • Mediation: If an agreement isn't reached initially, mediation can be a faster alternative to litigation. A neutral mediator facilitates communication to find a mutually beneficial solution, typically lasting a few sessions.
  • Court Litigation: If mediation fails or isn't pursued, the process moves to court. This can be the lengthiest option, potentially taking several months or even a year. Factors influencing this timeframe include court backlog, the complexity of the case, and the number of hearings required.

Key Considerations Affecting Time

  • Complexity of the Case: Straightforward cases with minimal conflict may move through the system quickly. Disputes about the child's best interests, past relationships, or extensive evidence can extend the process.
  • Availability of the Judge: Court schedules and judge availability can impact timelines.
  • Discovery Process: Gathering evidence, witness testimonies, and documentation can take time depending on the case's specifics.

The Importance of Legal Representation

Grandparent rights cases can be complex and emotionally charged. Consulting with an experienced family law attorney is crucial, especially when navigating custody battles. Here's where Johnson Law Group can help. Our dedicated family law attorneys understand the intricacies of Colorado grandparent rights law. We will work hard to:

  • Understand your unique situation and goals
  • Explain your legal options in clear and concise terms
  • Gather evidence to support your case
  • Represent you effectively in court, if necessary
  • Advocate for your rights and the best interests of your grandchildren

Maintaining Positive Relationships

Remember, the primary goal is to ensure the child's well-being. When possible, grandparents should strive to maintain a positive relationship with the child's parents. Communication and cooperation can go a long way in reaching an agreement that benefits everyone involved.

Additional Resources

This blog provides a general overview of grandparent rights in Colorado. It's important to consult with a qualified attorney for specific legal advice regarding your situation. Here are some helpful resources:

Understanding your rights as a grandparent in Colorado empowers you to take an active role in your grandchildren's lives. By seeking legal guidance from Johnson Law Group and prioritizing the child's best interests, you can navigate this legal process and foster a lasting bond with your grandchildren. You can reach us at 720-445-4444 or schedule a FREE consultation online today!

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Written by Family Law Attorney Myles S. Johnson
Divorce doesn’t have to be dramatic. For the litigants, losing your spouse is significant enough. But you can choose the way it affects your daily life. The only guarantee I can give is that the feeling that you have right now will not be the feeling you end with. This is a season in your life, and it must be approached that way.
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