The bond between a grandparent and their grandchild can be a powerful touchstone for children as they grow up. Grandparents can provide support, insight, and love in a child’s life that is unique and irreplaceable.
However, if you’re a grandparent whose adult child has divorced their spouse, you may find the time you spend with your grandchild diminishes or stops altogether, especially if custody was not decided in favor of your adult child. Tragically, it is also not uncommon for a grandchild to lose touch with one side of their family – including their grandparents – following the death of a parent.
Grandparent Visitation in Colorado
Typically, Colorado law protects parents’ right to decide with whom their children spend time. However, Colorado law does provide for grandparents to petition for visitation rights under certain circumstances. Colorado Revised Statute § 19-1-117 stipulates that a grandparent can request visitation if and only if one of the following is true:
- There is a pre-existing case determining parenting time, typically due to divorce, legal separation, annulment, or a paternity case.
- The child is living with someone other than their parents (excepting adoption).
- The child’s parent, who is the child of the grandparent or great-grandparent who is seeking visitation, has died.
This means that a grandparent could request visitation if there is already a court order in place determining custody, such as would be the case if the parents were divorced. However, if a grandparent is estranged from their adult child who is blocking them from having contact with their grandchild, the grandparent would have no legal standing to request visitation from the court. Likewise, if your grandchild does not live with your adult child but there is no custody order in place, then you would have no legal standing to request visitation.
Parents’ Rights & Troxel v. Granville
While grandparents may have the requisite legal standing to request visitation in the specific instances outlined above, following the 2000 U.S. Supreme Court Case Troxel v. Granville, states that have grandparent visitation laws must give due deference to a parent’s Constitutional right to raise their child.
Colorado courts have since applied a standard that requires grandparents to demonstrate by “clear and convincing evidence” that grandparent visitation is in the child’s best interests. While it is still possible for grandparents to be awarded visitation, they must meet this burden of evidence if they want to convince the court that it should award them visitation time against the objections of the parent or parents. For instance, if you have an established bond with your grandchild, your attorney may argue that severing that bond would be harmful to the child.
Awarding Custody to Grandparents
If both the child’s natural or adoptive parents are either deceased or unfit, the court may grant custody to a child’s grandparents if the grandparents are willing and able to take responsibility for their grandchild. If a child is removed from the custody of their parents, grandparents have priority over other claims.
Work with an Experienced Family Law Attorney
Grandparent visitation cases can be extremely complex. If you are seeking visitation rights to your grandchild, it’s vital that you seek the support of a seasoned family law attorney who has experience with grandparent visitation cases. At Clawson & Clawson, LLP, we can help advocate for you and your grandchild’s best interests in court.
Contact us online or call us at (719) 602-5888 to schedule a consultation.