What rights do grandparents hold when it comes to visitation with their
Colorado Courts recognize the fundamental right of fit parents to make
decisions regarding the care, custody and control of their children. What
does this mean for grandparents?
There is no automatic right to grandparent visitation in Colorado, however,
Colorado Revised Statutes §19-1-117 grants grandparents the ability
to petition a Colorado family law court for reasonable grandchild visitation
rights in the following instances:
- The marriage of the child’s parents is annulled, the parents are
divorced, or the parents are legally separated;
- The child is placed in the legal custody of someone other than a parent,
excluding a child who was placed for adoption or whose adoption was legally
finalized, with the exception of step-parent adoptions; or
- The child’s parent, who is the child of the grandparent is deceased.
If one of the above situations exists and a Colorado family law court found
that it is in the best interests of the child the court can grant grandparent
visitation. Once granted, Colorado grandparent visitation is treated similar
to any parental visitation, it may be modified or terminated if the court
finds that such action is in the best interest of the child involved.
In determining what is in the best interests of the child, the court considers
several factors such as whether the requested visitation is for the child’s
benefit, the prior interactions and interrelationship of the child with
the grandparents, the child’s wishes, and whether the grandparent’s
child is able to exercise parenting time.
Grandparents who are granted visitation rights maintain recourses in family
law courts if these visitation rights are not honored. However, Colorado
family law courts continually find that disputes between parents and grandparents
regarding grandparent visitation are not contests between equals. Grandparents
may obtain an order granting them visitation rights under a statute, but
parents have a fundamental constitutional right to the care, custody and
control of their children. In making determinations about grandparent
visitation Colorado courts must adhere to the following requirements:
Colorado family law courts are reluctant to impede on the fundamental
rights of parents thus creating an uphill battle for grandparents seeking
visitation rights from an objecting parent. However, courts do recognize
the special and important role grandparents may play in children’s
lives. Our attorneys have successfully assisted grandparents in these
actions. If you need assistance, contact our office.
- A presumption in favor of the parent’s decision concerning grandparent
visitation must be applied;
- The grandparents must then rebut this presumption by show of clear and
convincing evidence, that the determination is not in the child’s
best interests; and
- The grandparents must show, by clear and convincing evidence, the visitation
schedule they seek is in the child’s best interest.