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Do Grandparents Have Visitation Rights?


A divorce is hard on everyone – including the grandparents. If your child is going through a divorce or legal separation, you may wonder how this will affect your relationship and time spent with your grandchildren. This may especially be a concern if you do not have a good relationship with your soon-to-be-ex daughter-in-law or son-in-law. In Colorado, grandparents can be granted visitation rights.

Seeking Visitation as a Grandparent in Colorado

Under Colorado Revised Statute (C.R.S.) 19-1-117(1), a grandparent or great-grandparent may seek a court order granting visitation rights during a child custody case or a case concerning the allocation of parental responsibilities over a grandchild. Visitation does not mean custody; it is simply the right to visit with a child or grandchild, either supervised or unsupervised. With court-ordered visitation rights, the child’s parent(s) legally cannot keep the child from his or her grandparent. 

Seeking an order for visitation as a grandparent starts with submitting a motion for visitation. This order will go to the district court where the child resides. Along with the order, an affidavit must be submitted that sets forth the facts supporting your request. A copy of the motion and affidavit must be sent to the person who has legal custody of the child. This person may then file opposing affidavits to argue against grandparent visitation. The child’s parents have the right to respond to the motion and give reasons why visitation should be withheld.

It is also possible for a grandparent to seek legal custody, in some circumstances. If a child’s parents are deemed unfit for custody or abandon the child, a grandparent can seek the placement of his or her grandchild in the grandparents’ home. If a grandparent visitation or custody case goes to a hearing, a judge will ultimately make a decision based on what is in the best interests of the child.

Who Qualifies as a Grandparent?

A grandparent is defined by law as a person who is the parent of a child’s mother or father and is related to the child by blood (in whole or half), adoption, or marriage. However, it does not include the parent of a child’s legal mother or father whose parental rights have been terminated. A great-grandparent is the grandparent of a child’s mother or father who is related to the child by blood, adoption or marriage. Again, it does not include the grandparent of a legal mother or father whose parental rights have been terminated.

Disputes Involving Grandparent Visitation

If a grandparent or great-grandparent has been granted visitation rights by the courts, the child’s parents or legal guardians legally must comply with the order. According to C.R.S. Section 19-1-117.5, if the person with legal custody or parental responsibilities is not complying with a grandparent visitation order, the grandparent can return to court by filing a motion alleging noncompliance.

Upon receiving this motion, the court will investigate and determine whether there “has been or is likely to be a substantial and continuing noncompliance with the grandparent visitation order or schedule.” If the grandparent’s allegation is deemed valid, the court may issue additional orders according to the best interests of the child. 

This may include imposing additional terms or conditions on the existing visitation schedule, modifying the previous order, requiring the violator to post bond to ensure future compliance, and requiring makeup visitation for lost time. Finally, the grandparent could be awarded actual expenses incurred for having to take the matter to court.

Speak to an Attorney About Grandparent Visitation Rights

If you are dealing with a custody situation involving your grandchildren, a family law attorney in Colorado can help. A lawyer can protect your rights as a grandparent and help you file a motion for visitation during a divorce, legal separation or another issue regarding parental responsibilities over your grandchild. Contact the Law Office of Stephen Vertucci today at (970) 900-1800 for a consultation.

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