Can Visitation Rights Be Granted To Grandparents?

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  • Grandparents in Colorado have limited rights to visit their grandchildren. Such as they are, these legal rights are a matter of state law and not those of the Federal government.In general, the law favors the proposition that a child should stay in touch with his or her extended family. Apart from a child’s parents and siblings, the courts believe that a child should also remain connected with his or her aunts and uncles, cousins, and grandparents.

    Grandparents, though, do not automatically gain rights to see their grandchildren if both parents are living and married. To receive court-ordered visitation, grandparents must meet specific conditions set by Colorado courts:

    • Have a legal right to petition for visitation
    • Overcome the assumption that the parent is fit to make decisions on visitation
    • Provide definite evidence that grandparent visitation is best for the child

    Legal Right to Petition

    Grandparents must have standing. That’s a legal right to petition the court for visitation. It means previous judicial involvement must have happened that affects the child.

    Grandparents may pursue a court order for contact and visitation rights in any of the following situations:

    • When the child’s parents legally annul, or legally separate or divorce
    • When the child is placed in the charge of a party other than his or her parents
    • When one of the child’s parents has died, and the deceased parent is the grandparent’s adult child.

    Under these conditions, the court may order visiting time if it finds that it is in the child’s best interests to have regular visitations with his or her grandparents. Without judicial intervention, grandparents do not have proper standing.

    Overcoming the Presumption that the Parent is Fit to Make Decisions

    When grandparents have established that they have standing, they must then persuade the court that the child’s parent is unfit to make decisions on visitation.

    The court assumes that if the parents have shut down all contact with the grandparents, then the parents’ action is in the child’s best interests. Grandparents looking for visitation rights will need to prove that this specific finding is not correct.

    Proving Grandparent Visitation is in the Child’s Best Interests

    To overcome the presumption that the parents’ decision is a sound one, grandparents must present clear and convincing proof that contact with their grandchild is best for the child. This may include establishing that there is a significant relationship or special bond between grandparent and grandchild.

    Keep in mind that grandparents may also lose their standing in the event of adoption, since adoption is likely to result in a new set of parents and grandparents—unless the adopting party is a stepparent.