As a grandparent, you may wonder whether you have the right to visit your grandchild after the grandchild’s parents call it quits. Read on to find out.
The first step in figuring out if you can pursue grandparent’s visitation is to determine if you have standing. Standing is the legal term that simply means, you (and your situation) meet the baseline facts to file a claim in Court seeking grandparents’ rights.
In Colorado, a grandparent (or great-grandparent) can request visitation rights from the court if the grandchild (or great-grandchild) falls within one of the following circumstances:
- The child’s parents have divorced or entered a dissolution of civil union
- The child’s parents are legally separated
- The parent’s marriage or civil union was annulled
- There is an allocation of parental responsibilities (APR) or paternity case regarding the child
- The child has been placed outside of and does not reside in the home of the child's parent (excluding adoption);
- The child's parent, who is the child of the grandparent (or grandchild of the great-grandparent), has died; in this circumstance, there does not need to be an existing APR domestic relations or paternity case.
If you fall within one of these categories you meet the baseline requirements and have standing to seek grandparent’s rights. If none of the above apply then no matter how justified you may be, in seeking grandparent’s visitation, you cannot meet the baseline test, and lack the appropriate standing.
However, there is a big difference between being able to ask and subsequently getting grandparent’s visitation.
Difference between Asking and Getting Grandparents Visitation
Under federal and Colorado law, there is a constitutional right to be a parent and a presumption that a parent acts in the child’s best interest. Therefore, if a parent decides to deny grandparent visitation, then that decision is presumed to be in the child’s best interest, and the grandparent who is seeking visitation, must show that the parent’s decision is not in the child’s best interest.
To overcome the deference given to the parent’s decision, you must show by “clear and convincing” evidence that the parent’s decision is not in the child’s best interest. As an evidentiary standard, this is a high, but not necessarily insurmountable, burden to meet.
If you are a grandparent or great-grandparent and you’d like to pursue visitation rights with your grandchild or great-grandchild, we may be able to help. We understand how important it is to you to maintain a solid relationship with your loved one, and we want to do all we can to help you secure that bond. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our office right away if you have any questions.
Schedule a consultation with our skilled Colorado Springs family law attorneys today by calling us at 719-635-8499.