There are currently two laws in Colorado under which Grandparents may seek to establish parental rights and responsibilities or visitation with a grandchild. The first law is the Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act (“UDMA”), and the second is the Children’s Code.
Under the UDMA, Grandparents may seek visitation or parental rights and responsibilities in situations where the child is not currently in the physical care of a parent or when the grandparent has had physical care of the child for at least six months. To initiate the action, a grandparent can file a petition for allocation of parental responsibilities in the proper court. The petition must be filed while the child is in the grandparent’s care or within six months from the time their physical care of the child terminated. The grandparent must also provide notice of the petition to all interested parties. After a formal hearing, the Court will determine whether visitation rights or the allocation of parental rights and responsibilities is in the best interests of the child.
The second law, the Children’s Code, provides grandparents with the opportunity to preserve their visitation rights with the child. Often times a grandparent will request visitation under the Children’s Code after a disruption in the child’s family. For instance, a grandparent may request visitation following a divorce where the parental responsibilities have been allocated to an individual other than the parent. A grandparent may also seek visitation in cases where the child no longer lives with the parent or when a parent who is the child of the grandparent has died. The grandparent may petition the court for visitation under the Children’s Code only once every two years and must provide notice to all interested parties. The determination of visitation rights is also made in the best interests of the child.