If you are a grandparent seeking court approved visitation with your grandchildren or a parent defending against a petition for grandparent visitation, then you are in the right place. At Cohen & Cohen we can help you pursue or defend the welfare and best interests of your child or grandchild.
Petitioning for Grandparent Visitation
Determinations of parenting time, which include visitation and custody, are made by the court after looking at the child’s best interests and hearing any evidence that parenting time may endanger a child’s physical or mental welfare.1
In Colorado there are very specific requirements a grandparent must meet to receive court ordered visitation.2 Under these requirements you must:
- have standing to petition for visitation,
- overcome the presumption that the parent is fit to make visitation decisions, and
- provide clear and convincing evidence that grandparent visitation is in the best interest of the child.
Standing to Petition for Grandparent Visitation
In order to petition for grandparent visitation the grandparent must have standing with the court. Grandparents have standing to request the court grant visitation only when judicial intervention has occurred affecting the child.2 For example, when the parental responsibility for a child is at issue due to divorce, legal custody dispute, or a parent has died. Without judicial intervention the parents’ decisions are presumed appropriate and a grandparent generally does not have proper standing.
A grandparent may also lose their standing. This happens in the case of adoption. If the child has been adopted, then the original grandparents may no longer have standing. This is because adoption may result in new parents and new grandparents. The original grandparent relationship may have been severed by the adoption as adopted parents are viewed the same as natural parents.3
Overcoming Presumption Parent is Fit
Once a grandparent has established that they have standing the Court may move forward and look into whether the parent is fit to make visitation decisions.
A parent is presumed fit and the law protects the parent’s ability to make visitation decisions. The parents’ wishes will be given “special weight” and there is a presumption in favor of the parents’ choices and decisions when it comes to grandparent visitation.4
Proving Visitation is in the Child’s Best Interest
In order for a grandparent to overcome the presumption that the parents’ decision is appropriate, the grandparent must show clearly and convincingly that there are “special factors” making the visitation in the best interests of the child.
The “special factors” that show grandparent visitation may be in the best interests of the child include, but are not limited to, circumstances where there has been a significant relationship between child and grandparent prior to the court proceeding5 or when a connection has been developed between grandparent and grandchild due to the death of one or both parents.6
Taking the Next Step for Grandparent Visitation
The next step is to meet with an attorney to prepare and file the appropriate court documents.
An attorney will initiate the action for visitation by either filing a Motion to Intervene for Grandparent Visitation or a Verified Pleading Affidavit for Grandparent Visitation.7 In the alternative, an attorney helping a parent will enter their appearance in order to begin defense against visitation.
We Can Help You with Grandparent Visitation
If you are filing or defending a petition for grandparent visitation, at Cohen and Cohen, we can help you understand your rights, make important legal distinctions for better decisions, and provide professional representation in your visitation case.
Speak to the Grandparent Visitation Attorneys at Cohen & Cohen to see how our experience helping families pursue or defend the welfare and best interests of their child can help you.
To learn more, a lot more, about grandparent visitation click here (note this is NOT a substitute for legal advice).
To schedule an initial consultation to review your case with a Colorado Visitation Attorney at our convenient central Denver location call 303-933-4529.
2 – Colorado rule § 19-1-117, C.R.S.
3 – In re Petition of R.A., 121 P.3d 295 (Colo. App. 2005). Other aspect of case reversed in In re Adoption of C.A., 137 P.3d 318 (Colo. 2006).
4 – Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000).
5 – Blixt, 774 N.E.2d at 1060.
6 – Moriarty v. Bradt, 827 A.2d 203, 223-24 (N.J. 2003).
7 – Rule 24, C.R.C.P