Every parent in Denver automatically has parental rights over their children. Whatever your relationship with your co-parent is — married, divorced, never married — the law recognizes your right to legal child custody (the right to help make key decisions about the kids’ upbringing) and at least regular visitation time, if not shared custody. These rights can only be taken away because of things like abuse, untreated mental illness or some other reason that makes a parent unable to be a competent parent.
However, these rights generally are reserved for parents only. Other relatives, such as grandparents, have few legal rights. If you are a grandparent and one (or both) of your grandchildren’s parents won’t let you visit them, going to court to get “grandchild custody” is possible. But courts generally side with parents, and grandparents typically have a hard time convincing the judge to grant them visitation rights over the parents’ objections.
Proposing a change in grandparents’ rights law
One Colorado grandmother is trying to change that. State Rep. Regina English of Colorado Springs has introduced a bill to shift things in grandparents’ favor. The bill would explicitly require that decisions about grandparent visitation be made in the child’s best interests, just like regular child custody decisions. It would also give judges the power to appoint an attorney to represent the child.
Rep. English is a grandmother herself who is estranged from two of her grandkids due to a custody dispute between the parents. “All we’re asking is for the judge to do is be more inclusive when it’s in the best interests of the grandchildren,” she said.
Family means more than parents and children
Family law most often affects married couples, parents and children. But most Denver families have other members. As a grandparent, you may need legal help maintaining your relationship with the grandchildren. While challenging, this is often possible with a family law attorney’s help.