Can Grandparents be Awarded Custody?

When a family is divided by divorce, a great deal of time goes into determining parental visitation rights and custody. Because they are not automatically afforded visitation rights or custody, grandparents are often overlooked. So, can grandparents be awarded custody of a grandchild after a divorce in Colorado?

The short answer is yes, under some conditions, grandparents can be awarded custody of their grandchild. But, if either parent of the child is still living and is interested or is competent to parent his or her child, there must be compelling circumstances for grandparents to be awarded custody.

If the child is not under the physical care of his or parents, or if a parent has left the child under the physical care of the child’s grandparents for a minimum of 182 days, a grandparent may be allowed to petition the court for parental rights of a child as mandated by Colorado’s Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act (UMDA).

If the grandparents wish to file a petition for child custody after the child has returned to one or both parents, or the child has otherwise left the physical custody of the grandparent’s, they must do so within 182 days of the child leaving the grandparent’s home. Under most circumstances, the proper motion to file is known as a Motion for Allocation of Parental Responsibilities.

The court will foremost take into consideration the best interests of the child when deciding whether or not to award a grandparent parental responsibility for a grandchild. Factors such as the relationship the grandchild and his or her grandparent have, and the overall health of the grandparent will be considered as well.

Additional reasons for awarding custody to grandparents may stem from a practical point of view. If a child is subject to physical, emotional, or psychological abuse or neglect at home, or if the authorities have removed the child from the parents’ home, grandparents may be awarded custody. Other reasons include situations where the parents of the grandchild are underage, incarcerated or found guilty of committing a felony.

Because Colorado laws on grandparent rights are not always clear cut, grandparents are encouraged to speak with an experienced attorney. Grandparent’s rights to visitation and custody are never guaranteed, however, grandparents may be awarded these rights if a family law court determines that the best interest of the child would be served by this arrangement.

If you are a grandparent and concerned about obtaining custody of your grandchildren, it is important that you speak to one of our experienced Boulder child custody lawyers immediately. You have options. Contact the Boulder child custody attorneys at Goff & Goff, LLC today for a free initial consultation. 

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