Grandparents have a couple of options when it comes to establishing parental or visitation rights with their grandchildren. Visitation rights can be granted under three circumstances: when the child’s parents are divorced or the court has issued a decree of legal separation, when the child is in the custody of someone who is not his or her parent or when the parent who is the child of the grandparents has died.
Fulfilling one of the above criteria does not necessarily guarantee a grandparent will be able to visit his or her grandchild. For example, if the parents do not wish to grant visitation to the grandparents because of a falling out, there is nothing the courts can do to force them. If the child is being adopted, grandparents also do not hold any rights to visitation. (However, this is not true of stepparent adoptions.)
For a grandparent to obtain child custody, the possibilities are narrower. The grandparent can only bring the case to court in situations where the child is living with someone other than a parent or where the child has lived with the grandparents for more than six months.
Once a grandparent is able to prove that he or she has standing for visitation or custody rights, the court will determine a course of action based on the best interest of the child. Parent wants, child wants, the child’s relationship with his or her guardians, the child’s comfort level in the current environment, the physical and mental health of the child’s guardians ”“ the decision is complex and involved.
Getting custody of a child as a grandparent can be difficult. Contact a family law attorney if you are seeking custody of a grandchild.
Divorce Matters ”“ Denver Family Law Attorneys