Colorado family law: grandparents’ rights to grandchild visitation

The grandparent-grandchild relationship can be especially meaningful to both parties, but when the parent or parents of the grandchild are in crisis, or unable or unwilling to provide all that the grandchild needs, sometimes a grandparent can make all the difference.

Colorado grandchild visitation rights

In recognition of the potential significance of a grandparent, Colorado law provides a procedure for a grandparent to ask the state court for the right to visit or spend reasonable time with a grandchild in three specific situations:

  • When the grandchild's parents are legally separated or divorced; or their marriage has been declared legally invalid.
  • When the grandchild's parent has died and that parent was the child of the grandparent seeking the right to visit.
  • When someone other than the grandparent's child has legal custody of or parental responsibility for the grandchild or the grandchild is living away from his or her parent (except when the child is being or has been adopted by someone other than a stepparent or the parent's parental rights have been terminated).

The best-interest standard

As with other important legal court decisions concerning children, in deciding whether to grant a grandparent visitation rights, the court must determine whether visitation with the grandparent would be in the grandchild's best interest. The grandparent must submit to the court an affidavit that sets out all the facts supporting the request for grandchild visitation; in other words, the affidavit should include all information the grandparent believes shows the visitation rights would be in that child's best interests.

The court may grant grandparent visitation rights even when the parents of the grandchild oppose the visitation, as long as the court specifically lays out its findings as to why the visitation would be in the grandchild's best interests despite the parental opinion.

Likewise, the court can also modify or revoke grandchild visitation rights if it would be in the best interests of the grandchild.

Procedural matters

The Colorado grandparent visitation statute requires that specific notice be given to the person who has legal custody or parental responsibility of the grandchild. A hearing on the matter may be requested by the grandparent, the legal custodian or person with parental responsibility, or the court.

Get legal counsel

In certain situations, a grandparent may also be able to obtain legal custody of a grandchild or adopt the grandchild.

If you are a Colorado grandparent who seeks visitation or wants to explore seeking custody or adoption of a grandchild, seek the advice and counsel of an experienced Colorado family law attorney to understand your rights and required legal procedures to pursue those rights.