Grandparents' Rights

Retaining Durango Lawyers for Grandparents' Rights

Unlike some other states, Colorado has recognized the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren. Whether you are a grandparent hoping to see your grandchild or a parent who does not want your child's grandparents in his or her life, you will need the help of a forceful and knowledgeable Durango grandparents’ rights attorney. The law firm of Greenberg, McGuinness & Alt has significant experience handling these cases in La Plata County, Archuleta County, Montezuma County, and the Southern Ute Tribal Court jurisdiction.

Rights Available for Colorado Grandparents

Two Colorado laws cover grandparents' visitation rights and their efforts to establish parenting rights: the Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act (UDMA) and the Children's Code. Grandparents generally cannot establish parenting rights or get visitation rights if grandchildren live in an intact family. Any dispute between parents and grandparents is not a dispute between two parties whose rights are equal. Parents always have an advantage, which grandparents can overcome in specific, narrowly-drawn circumstances.

Under the UDMA, grandparents can seek visitation or parental rights in situations where a child is not currently in the care and custody of a parent or where a grandparent has been caring for a child for a minimum of six months. In the latter situation, the grandparent may file a petition for allocation of parental responsibilities while the child is within his or her care, or within six months of that six-month period of care. The issue before the court hearing the petition is whether the proposed allocation is in the child's best interest.

Under the Children’s Code, there are three circumstances in which a grandparent can file for visitation rights with Colorado grandchildren. The first situation arises when the grandchild's parents are divorced or legally separated. The second situation is when the child is under the care and custody of somebody other than the parents. The third situation arises when the grandparent's own child dies and the remaining parent does not arrange informal visitation sought by the grandparent.

However, when a parent loses parental rights, the rights of his own parents are lost, too. This applies in cases of severe drug abuse by parents, for example, when a child has been sent to a foster family, parental rights have been terminated, and the child is ready to be adopted by the foster family and has never been under the care of the grandparents. It does not necessarily apply when the adopting party is a stepfather or stepdaughter.

If you are a parent who does not want a grandparent's involvement, you are presumed to be acting in the child's best interests. However, the presumption is rebuttable. The grandparents can rebut the presumption by providing clear and convincing evidence that the parent isn't fit to make the presumption, or the parent's decision barring visitation isn't in the child's best interests. The court must make specific findings when it makes its decision. The custodial parent is entitled to request a hearing.

Seek Advice from Durango Grandparents' Rights Attorneys

Disruption in children's lives usually is not positive. A parent's death or a loss of visitation with grandparents who have always been involved can be stressful to a child who needs stability, guidance, and solid positive relationships. On the other hand, parents often have valid reasons not to want grandparents to be involved, such as where grandparents fail to honor a parent's requests or expose the child to harmful influences. Whether you are a grandparent seeking parental rights or visitation, or you are a parent who does not approve, you have a vested interest. The trustworthy lawyers of Greenberg, McGuinness & Alt can handle your Durango family law matter with compassion and skill. We represent clients in Durango, Pagosa Springs, Cortez, and Ignacio. Contact us at (970) 259-4422 or through our online form to set up a free initial consultation.