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Are Grandparents Legally Entitled to Visitation?

Divorce and custody issues do not only affect parents and their children, they also affect other people who play an important role in a child’s life, including grandparents. Unfortunately in many families, grandparents are pushed to the sidelines and their relationships with their grandchildren damaged because of their own child’s divorce.

Grandparents might also be put into a difficult situation because of their own child’s relationship with his or her former spouse or partner. If the grandparents take a reasonable approach to the divorce and attempt to be civil with their child’s former spouse in order to preserve their relationship with the child, it can create conflict between all of the adult parents.

Ideally, grandparents and everyone else involved will put any hard feelings aside and focus on the best interest of the child. If either parent attempts to interfere with their child’s relationship with his or her grandparents, legal action can be taken to do what is necessary to protect the child’s best interest.
In Colorado the grandparent must meet certain criteria before the court will approve visitation rights, so grandparents should prepare themselves for a legal process that could include a few bumps. Attaining the services of an attorney familiar with grandparent rights in the state can be helpful.
What should you know, as a grandparent of a child with divorcing or divorced parents, about your rights?
According to CRS § 19-1-117:

(2) A party seeking a grandchild or great-grandchild visitation order shall submit, together with his or her motion for visitation, to the district court for the district in which the child resides an affidavit setting forth facts supporting the requested order and shall give notice, together with a copy of his or her affidavit, to the party who has legal custody of the child or to the party with parental responsibilities as determined by a court pursuant to article 10 of title 14, C.R.S. The party with legal custody or parental responsibilities as determined by a court pursuant to article 10 of title 14, C.R.S., may file opposing affidavits. If neither party requests a hearing, the court shall enter an order granting grandchild or great-grandchild visitation rights to the petitioning grandparent or great-grandparent only upon a finding that the visitation is in the best interests of the child. A hearing shall be held if either party so requests or if it appears to the court that it is in the best interests of the child that a hearing be held. At the hearing, parties submitting affidavits shall be allowed an opportunity to be heard. If, at the conclusion of the hearing, the court finds it is in the best interests of the child to grant grandchild or great-grandchild visitation rights to the petitioning grandparent or great-grandparent, the court shall enter an order granting such rights.

(3) A grandparent or great-grandparent shall not file an affidavit seeking an order granting grandchild or great-grandchild visitation rights more than once every two years absent a showing of good cause. If the court finds there is good cause to file more than one such affidavit, it shall allow such additional affidavit to be filed and shall consider it. The court may order reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party. The court may not make any order restricting the movement of the child if such restriction is solely for the purpose of allowing the grandparent or great-grandparent the opportunity to exercise his grandchild or great-grandchild visitation rights.

(4) The court may make an order modifying or terminating grandchild or great-grandchild visitation rights whenever such order would serve the best interests of the child.

(5) Any order granting or denying parenting time rights to the parent of a child shall not affect visitation rights granted to a grandparent or great-grandparent pursuant to this section.

If you are the grandparent of a child and you would like to protect your right to spend time with him or her, or you have general questions about the rights of grandparents, we can help. Contact Montgomery Little & Soran, PC at 303-773-8100.

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