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Grandparents have visitation rights

Both parents have rights and responsibilities toward their children after a divorce. Colorado courts generally order parents to share physical custody, but even when a child lives with one parent most of the time, the other parent almost always has rights to visit their child. Visitation is considered a fundamental right for parents, and good for the child, and a court will rarely interfere with it unless the parent has been abusive.

Colorado, like every other state, also recognizes a visitation right for grandparents, but grandparents' rights are less clear than parental rights.

In an important cases from almost 20 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court limited grandparents' rights to visitation. The case, Troxel v. Granville, involved a couple who wished to see their deceased son's young daughters. The girls' mother did not object to them visiting, but wanted to limit their visits to once a month, plus some holidays. The grandparents took her to court to try to increase their access to the girls, relying upon a state law that gave grandparents extensive visitation rights except in cases of abuse. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down that law, finding that it infringed on the mother's fundamental right to control the upbringing of her children.

Today, all states have some law granting grandparents visitation rights, but courts must take into account the parent's fundamental rights. If a court finds that the grandparents' request for visitation places too much of a burden on the parent's rights, the court will likely side with the parent. As in all family law decisions involving children, the best interest of the child is the court's first consideration.

These cases are legally tricky and often emotionally difficult. Grandparents and others seeking visitation with the children in their families can talk to an experienced family law attorney about their options.

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Mary Kay Kramer, P.C.
1820 West Colorado Avenue
Colorado Springs, CO 80904

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