Colorado Grandparent Rights & Visitation Introduction
Under C.R.S. 19-1-117, a grandparent can petition a Colorado family law court for reasonable grandchild visitation rights in the following situations:
- The grandchild's parents have obtained a dissolution, annulment, or legal separation,
- The child has been placed into the legal custody of someone other than a parent, or
- The child's parent, who is the child of the grandparent seeking visitation, has died.
There is no automatic right to grandparent visitation - the Colorado family law court must find that it is in the best interests of the child to have grandparent visitation. And, once granted, Colorado grandparent visitation may be modified or terminated if it is in the best interests of the child. Note that this is not the end of the inquiry, however - see the next article on Colorado Grandparent Rights Legal Standards for important cases interpreting the "best interests" standard.
Finally, Colorado grandparent rights and visitation are terminated by the child's adoption, or termination of the parental rights of the child's parent who is the child of the grandparent.
No Colorado Grandparent Visitation If Family Intact
In February 2005, the Colorado Court of Appeals issued a ruling, In the Matter of D.C. and D.C., 04CA0249 (Colo. App. 2005) which reiterated that a grandparent in Colorado could not seek visitation with grandchildren when both of the children's natural parents were alive and there had been no prior Colorado family court actions.
The grandparent argued that the family was not intact, since the children lived with their mother, and not the father. However, the absence of a court action was fatal to that argument. Citing the Troxel decision, the Court of Appeals stated: "[T]he statute ensures that grandparent visitation decisions made by parents of intact families, where there has been no prior court intervention, are not challenged."