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Grandparents Rights

Grandparent Visitation In Colorado

Grandparents oftentimes play an important role in a child’s life, and many parents seek to foster a meaningful relationship between their parents and their child. While some families can determine on their own what a grandparent’s relationship should look like with their child, it is not uncommon for disputes to crop up between a parent and a grandparent as it relates to when, and how often, a grandparent gets to spend time with their grandchild.

Each family’s situation is different; a parent may be estranged from their own parents, or a divorce or custody proceeding can disrupt a previous arrangement with grandparents. As a family law attorney who has experienced all sorts of different familial situations and structures, it is not uncommon to receive requests from grandparents who are seeking to assert and establish their own parenting time with their grandchild. However, most grandparents aren’t aware of how the law operates in these circumstances. To help provide some guidance to individuals who may be in this situation presently, I’ve put together some answers to the most frequently asked questions I get from grandparents:

1. I Want To See My Grandchild, But Their Parent Isn’t Letting Me. Can I Establish Visitation Rights?

The short answer to this question is yes – but only if there has previously been a child custody case involving the child.

Colorado law – according to § 14-10-124.4 allows for grandparents (and great-grandparents) to seek visitation rights in the following circumstances:

» The grandchild’s parents have gotten a divorce, legal separation, or annulment;
» A third party who is not a parent has custody of the child;
» The child’s parent, who is the child of the grandparent seeking visitation, has died. It is important to note that if you are a grandparent and your own child is preventing you from having visitation with your grandchild, the law does not allow you to seek visitation. More on that a little bit later.

The main question I always ask grandparents who are seeking visitation is if there has been an established custody case. If the grandchild is still living with their parents, and there has never been a custody order, a grandparent doesn’t even have the ability to go to a court and request visitation under Colorado law. This is true even if the parents have physically separated from each other.

Additionally, this means that a grandparent who is estranged from their child is prevented from going to court to seek grandparent visitation if their child objects to their request and is part of an intact family unit.

2. There Is No Custody Case, But My Grandchild’s Parents Were Never Married. Can I Seek Visitation Rights?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. If there is not a previous custody case involving the grandchild, regardless of whether the parents were married or not, a grandparent cannot obtain a court order establishing grandparent visitation.

3. Why Is It So Hard For Me To Establish Grandparent Visitation Rights In Colorado? 

This is another common question that I encounter. The basis behind this answer is largely due to a Supreme Court case from 2000 called Troxel v. Granville. What that case established is that the Constitution (specifically the 14th Amendment) conveys a fundamental right to parents to oversee the care, custody, and control of their child.

In practice, this essentially means that a fit parent is presumed to be acting in their child’s best interests. Judges, in determining whether grandparents should have visitation rights, must give substantial deference to a parent’s wishes as to whether or not they want that visitation to be awarded.

4. What Do I Need To Prove To Obtain Grandparent Visitation Rights?

The Colorado law § 14-10-124.4(4) that provides for grandparent visitation establishes three main barriers that must be overcome by the grandparent to obtain visitation rights. Those include:

» Overcoming the presumption made by the court that the parent’s determination regarding whether grandparent visitation should occur is in the child’s best interests;
»Showing, by clear and convincing evidence, that the parent’s determination as to grandparent visitation is not in the child’s best interests;
» Showing, by clear and convincing evidence, that the grandparent visitation schedule that is being sought is in the child’s best interests.

Demonstrating these things with ‘clear and convincing’ evidence is no easy task. In practice, this means that a grandparent has to provide proof or evidence, that is highly and substantially more likely to be true than untrue.

5. I Have An Order From The Court Granting Me Visitation Rights. Can I Modify That Order?

This is a more straightforward answer, which is yes, you can modify the visitation order. The visitation order can be modified, or terminated, if the order would serve “the best interests of the child.” § 14-10-124.4(8).

6. I Have An Order From The Court Granting Me Visitation Rights. One (Or Both) Of The Parents Are Violating The Order. What Can I Do?

If this is the situation, the grandparent still has to show by clear and convincing evidence that either the proposed modification or termination of the visitation order is not in the child’s best interests.

If modification or termination is being sought, the onus is on the grandparent to again establish that the original visitation order is still in the child’s best interest by providing proof that is clear and convincing.

7. I Have A Visitation Order, But One (Or Both) Of The Parents Are Violating The Order. What Can I Do?

If a grandparent has a visitation order in place, and thinks that violations are occurring that are impacting their ability to exercise visitation, a grandparent can file a Motion with the court that outlines the specific violations that are occurring. § 14-10-124.5(1).

If the Motion contains enough information outlining the violation(s), the court can set a hearing on the Motion. Most of the time, the court will require mediation prior to scheduling a contested hearing on the Motion.


Navigating the complexities of grandparent visitation rights in Colorado requires a deep understanding of specific legal standards and precedents. For grandparents seeking to maintain a relationship with their grandchildren, it is crucial to recognize the stringent requirements set by state law and the high burden of proof required to overcome a parent’s objections. As legal landscapes evolve and familial dynamics change, grandparents must stay informed and consider legal counsel when attempting to establish or modify visitation rights. Remember, while the process may seem daunting, the goal of preserving family bonds and ensuring the well-being of children remains paramount. Always prioritize the child’s best interests and seek professional advice to navigate this sensitive area of family law effectively.

Modern Family Law

Modern Family Law’s team of experienced family lawyers takes a compassionate approach to the practice of family law. Using innovative technology to create an effective and efficient process for our clientele, our attorneys approach each case as a collective effort to find the best long-term solutions for each family. We understand the financial burden a divorce can have on an individual. As such we have created our industry-first SimpleStart™ program, providing people a chance to reduce the amount of money needed upfront to start their case. For more information please give us a call or fill out a short form online to sign up for a consultation today! Let us make a positive difference in your life.

By Evan Chavez, Esq.

Posted April 25, 2024

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