When the topic of family law comes up, one often overlooked area is the right for grandparents to have visitation with their grandchildren. In Colorado, every grandfather or grandmother has a right to reasonable visitation with their grandchildren due to the value our country places on a close family bond. Usually, it is up to a parent to decide who can and cannot spend time with a child, however, close family members, such as grandparents, can sometimes get a court order granting visitation with their grandchild. We have helped countless grandparents obtain visitation with their loved ones. However, there are a few things you should know!
When am I allowed to file a motion for visitation?
In order to file a motion to ask for visitation time with your grandchild, Colorado law requires one of the below:
1) The parents of the child must be, or in the process of becoming, legally divorced, legally separated, or part of a marriage that the court has decided is invalid under Colorado law
2) A judge gave legal custody or parental rights of the child to a party that is not one of the child’s birth parents (however the child must not have been adopted or placed for adoption) or
3) The child’s parent, who is also the child of the grandparents seeking visitation, has died.
If one of these situations applies to you, a judge may grant you a court order to allow visitation with your grandchild.
What is the biggest hurdle in my case?
The biggest issue in a grandparent visitation rights case is overcoming a parent’s objection to grandparent visitation. The way the law is written, there is a presumption in favor of the parent and we must overcome this by showing that it is in the child’s best interest to have visitation with the grandparent. For example, it would not be reasonable, or in the child’s best interest, for one parent to withhold visitation with a grandparent to get revenge on the other parent.
How does a grandparent visitation case work?
In these cases, first, we must file a motion in the district where the child lives, including an affidavit document with facts supporting and explaining why the child should have visitation with a grandparent. Notice of the motion and court hearing must then be given to the parent or party who has legal custody of the child, or who has parental responsibilities over the child.
Next, a response may be filed by the parent with a supporting affidavit document explaining the parent’s reason why the grandparent should not receive visitation.
If no hearing is requested by either party, sometimes the court may enter an order granting the grandparent visitation if the judge believes, based on the affidavit, the judge has enough information to conclude visitation is in the best interest of the child.
If one of the parties requests a formal hearing, or the judge decides more information is needed, a hearing date will be set for each party to be heard and give testimony on why it is in the child’s best interest to have, or not to have, visitation with the grandparent. After hearing both sides, the judge will then issue an order either granting or denying, visitation between the grandparent and child.
What are some factors the Judge may take into account when deciding what is in the child’s best interest?
A judge may take into account many factors when deciding whether grandparent visitation is in a child’s best interest, such as:
- The wishes of the parent and the wishes of the child
- The child’s relationship with the parent, and if visitation with a grandparent will negatively or positively impact the child-parent relationship
- The court will look at how grandparent visitation would negatively or positively impact a child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community
- The mental and physical health of all parties involved; however, a disability alone is no basis to deny grandparent visitation
- The ability of parties to encourage the sharing of love, affection, and contact with the other party
- The pattern of involvement a grandparent had in the child’s life that fosters values, a time commitment to the child, and support to the child
- How close the child and grandparent live in regard to the practical considerations of how visitation would take place
- The ability of the grandparent to place the child’s needs above their own needs
One factor itself will not determine an outcome of a case, as the judge will take all of the factors together when making a decision on grandparent visitation, which is why it is important to have an attorney who is experienced and can give you the representation you deserve and need. If you have questions or concerns about seeing your grandchild, contact Jones Law Firm today to speak to an experienced family law attorney who can help you get the results you deserve.