Can I Get Rights as a Grandparent in Child Custody Cases?
How do grandparents’ rights work in Colorado? Grandparents do have rights in Colorado; however, the catch is that a motion for establishment of grandparents’ rights has to be filed in an underlying case. There has to be a vehicle where you can file your motion for grandparents’ rights. There needs to have been either a petition for disillusion of marriage or a paternity action, or a petition for allocation of parental responsibilities case. That case doesn’t have to be open or active, but there has to have been a case filed at some point in time that relates to those children.
At that point then, what you do is you can file your motion to establish grandparents’ rights in that case and reopen the case. You would just basically file a motion and ask that your rights be established. You would need to be able to tell the court what you’re seeking. What are seeking to accomplish? You can establish visitation rights. In other words, you can say that “I want to be able to visit the child on Saturday afternoons,” for example, or Sunday afternoons. You can ask the court to enter orders regarding grandparents’ rights. You have to serve the paperwork. In other words, notify by mailing the paperwork to the parents, to the biological parents of the children. They need to be notified, and they can participate in the process.
Sometimes families are estranged and the mother or father of the children doesn’t want the grandparents involved, which is unfortunate. They can then object to a grandparent having any visitation rights. At that point the court, if mediation is not successful, would set the matter for an evidentiary hearing and determine, based upon the testimony of the witnesses and the evidence presented, whether the grandparents’ rights are in the best interests of the children. That’s really the focus here, is what is in the best interests of the children. If the court determines that the motion for grandparents’ rights, or basically grandparents visitation, is in the best interests of the children, then the court will establish and enter orders relating to that. Then you can enforce those orders and have visitation with the children.
In some instances grandparents have had custody of the children for a while. Let’s just say that the biological parents are unable to care for the children. Under certain specified instances, a grandparent could file a petition for allocation of parental responsibility seeking to have parental responsibilities allocated to them because they have cared for the child or children for more than six months. They basically have been the parents. Again, if that’s the situation, then they’re seeking custody of the children. Doesn’t happen that often. Usually there is a consent by the parents involved.
But if you have had custody of the children for more than six months, you can file a petition for allocation of parental responsibilities to have that arrangement made permanent. Unless there is a consent of everybody involved, I don’t recommend that you try to do that on your own. Go and hire an attorney. We do a lot of those types of cases here at Lewis & Matthews and we can help guide you through the process.