Few relationships hold the same meaning as that between a grandparent and grandchild. Life can get messy sometimes though, and maintaining that relationship can become difficult or even impossible. If your child is going through a divorce or you are otherwise having trouble accessing your grandchild, you might want to explore your options for grandparent visitation.
Grandparent visitation is not as uncommon as you might think it is. This is because child custody and visitation schedules should always focus on what is in the best interests of the child. If maintaining a loving and regular relationship with a grandparent is in a child’s best interests, then visitation is likely.
What does best interests mean?
The best interests of a child is a phrase that is widely used in family law matters. What this really refers to is that all decisions should be made with the child’s well-being in mind. A judge might take a number of things into account when deciding whether grandparent visitation lines up with your grandchild’s best interests, including his or her:
- Emotional and physical health
- Personal wishes
- Current relationship with you
Another thing to keep in mind is whether there is any significant distance between where you and your grandchild live. Visitation may be more limited or infrequent if you live several hours away compared to more frequent visitation if you live closer. A judge might also look into your physical ability to travel these distances or to otherwise provide care for your grandchild.
What about custody?
In general, children fare better when they have regular access to both of their parents following a divorce. There are exceptions to this, though. Parental custody might be off the table if one or both parents is abusive, incompetent or otherwise unfit.
This is where grandparents sometimes step in. It is possible to gain physical and legal custody of your grandchild in a situation such as this. Keep in mind that keeping families together is typically a priority in family law, so this is usually not a judge’s first choice.
What if I do not have a relationship with my grandchild?
This can be a little tricky. It is important to differentiate between whether you did not have a relationship with your grandchild because you did not make the effort, or because his or her parents did not allow you to have access. Ultimately, it will be up to a judge to decide whether the introduction of a new grandparent relationship will benefit your grandchild.
While Colorado does allow for grandparent visitation, navigating the process can be overwhelming and time-consuming. Many grandparents are not even sure where to start with this process. Although there are many steps involved, a good place to start is usually by learning as much as possible about this aspect of family law.