A divorce or separation may not terminate a grandparent’s or great-grandparent’s rights to contact or visit the couple’s children. A grandparent or great-grandparent has rights to seek court permission for visitation and contact in Colorado. This may play a role in child custody matters.

Eligibility

Grandparents or great-grandparents may seek these rights in one of three situations. First, the grandchild’s parents’ marriage or civil union was declared invalid, terminated by divorce or annulment or the court entered a legal separation decree.

Next, the grandchild’s legal custody was given to a person who is not the child’s parent, or the child was placed outside the parent’s home and does not reside so long as the child was not approved or placed for adoption. Third, the grandparent’s child and the parent of the grandchild has died.

A party opposing visitation may request a court hearing. Otherwise, a court may order visitation without a hearing if it finds that visitation is in the best interests of the child.

If a court finds that the son of grandparent or great-grandparent is the father in a paternity case and a custody order is entered, grandparents and great-grandparents may seek visitation. A child may not be taken away from their custodial parent if that parent is drinking or using drugs without a court order and the grandparent or great-grandparent meets the eligibility requirements for visitation.

Modification and enforcement

These visitation rights may be terminated if the grandchild is adopted unless the child is adopted by the natural person’s new spouse and still lives with and remains in the natural person’s legal custody. Courts may also modify any visitation order if it finds that the change is in the child’s best interest.

A court may act if a person with legal custody does not comply with a visitation order. A court can impose more terms and conditions to its order, modify that order, make the violator post bond or security, require that the missed visitation time be made up, hold the violator in contempt of court and impose incarceration or bond and award attorney’s fees to the grandparents or great-grandparents.

Custody and visitation issues may be complicated and stressful. An attorney can help protect rights and assure that an order serves the best interests of the child.