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Colorado’s New Rules on Family Time for Grandparents and Great-Grandparents 

Grandparents and great-grandparents

Grandparents and great-grandparents can play an important role in children’s lives. Colorado law recognizes that these relationships may be in the best interests of grandchildren or great-grandchildren. As such, family time — formerly known as visitation — may be granted because of the positive effects the relationship may have on a grandchild’s or great-grandchild’s health and well-being. However, the legal right to grandparent or great-grandparent family time is not absolute. It is granted only under specific circumstances. 

Under a 2023 Colorado statute, grandparents or great-grandparents may petition for reasonable family time when there is or has been a child custody case or a case concerning the allocation of parental responsibilities with respect to the child. This includes any of the following situations:

  • The child’s parents are divorced or legally separated or their marriage has been declared invalid.
  • Someone other than a parent of the child has custody or parental responsibility, such as a foster parent or court-appointed guardianship, or the child has been placed outside of and does not reside in the home of the child’s parent. This does not include a child who has been placed for adoption or whose adoption has been legally finalized.
  • The child’s parent, who is the child of the grandparent or grandchild of the great-grandparent, has died.

Grandparents or great-grandparents generally cannot request family time if the child’s parents are married and living together, even if they’re having marital difficulties that could affect the child. The law gives priority to an intact family unit’s right to make decisions regarding their children. 

In deciding on a petition for family time, the court will prioritize the child’s best interests above all else. A grandparent or great-grandparent must submit an affidavit setting forth facts supporting the requested order 

If there is a dispute between the child’s parents and the grandparents or great-grandparents regarding family time, the court will presume that the parents’ view is in the child’s best interests. However, a grandparent or great-grandparent may overcome that presumption upon showing by clear and convincing evidence that the requested family time is in the child’s best interests. In deciding whether that burden of proof is met, the court considers the same factors that are used in allocations of parenting time between parents.

If convinced that grandparent or great-grandparent family time is in the child’s best interests, the court might approve a regular and consistent schedule. This could mean weekly or bi-weekly visits, depending on the child’s age, grade in school and other commitments. Additional family time might be granted during special occasions, such as birthdays, major holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving and family celebrations. An experienced grandparental visitation attorney can gather evidence, present a compelling case and advocate for your rights. 

At the Law Offices of Bonnie E. Saltzman, LLC in the south Denver area, we have substantial experience in family law, including grandparents’ rights. To arrange a free no obligation consultation, call 720-388-1565 or contact us online.