There are only a few specific instances in which grandparents have a chance of obtaining legal visitation rights with grandchildren, according to Colorado Revised Statutes. Grandparents may petition the court for visitation if:
There has been an allocation of parental responsibilities (APR) due to a paternity case, a dissolution of marriage, or other circumstances
The child has been placed outside a parent’s home and the APR has been granted to a non-parent – except in cases of adoption
The grandparents’ child (the parent of the grandchildren) has died, and the other parent is still alive
These are the only circumstances in which grandparents or great-grandparents have any legal grounds to seek court-ordered visitation of grandchildren, and even so, it can be extremely difficult to gain the approval of the court. It may depend not only on the case, but also on the judge hearing the case.
In addition, grandparents may be asked to provide clear and convincing evidence that their absence is detrimental to the best interests of children involved, and that the parent or parents are being unreasonable in denying visitation between grandparents and children. In short, it’s an uphill battle that may never result in visitation being granted.
Lack of a Prior Custody Case
Unfortunately, there is no legal recourse for grandparents seeking visitation if no custody has been formally assigned, as in cases where parents are still married, are living apart but have not divorced, or were never married in the first place, and have not established legal custody. As long as parents are deemed fit, their decision to deny visitation to grandparents, whatever the reason, falls within their rights to raise children as they see fit.
In some cases, children may be removed from the parents’ custody and placed with grandparents for care. When children are in the physical care of grandparents for at least six months, the grandparents may petition for an APR (while children are in their care, or within six months of having children removed from their care).
Again, biological parents will generally have preference for custody, but it depends on the situation. The best thing you can do is speak to a qualified attorney from Curtis Law Firm to find out what your rights are and what legal action makes sense in your current situation.