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Court of Appeals Rules that Great-Grandparents Do Not Have Visitation Rights

Bloch & Chapleau Feb 22nd, 2013 Family Law

Great Grandparents and Visitation Rights

On January 31, 2013, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled whether great-grandparents of a child have standing to request visitation under the Grandparent Visitation Statute, which is an increasingly prevalent area of family law. In this case, the child’s great-grandmother (grandmother of the child’s mother) requested visitation rights, which the child’s father opposed. Although the Denver District Court initially allowed the great-grandmother to intervene and submit her request, the Colorado Court of Appeals reversed the decision and held that great-grandparents do not have standing to request grandparent visitation. The Court reasoned that since these requests impinge on a parent’s Constitutional right to make decisions concerning their child, these requests should be limited to relatives who are likely to have the next closest relationship to the child. The Court also wanted to limit the number of persons who could interfere with the parent’s fundamental rights.

Over the past ten years, more and more grandparents are seeking visitation rights to their grandchildren. While they have standing to do so in Colorado, the right to visitation is not guaranteed. Courts are often reluctant to grant visitation because it interferes with a parent’s right to raise their children. This recent case is important to the issue of grandparent visitation. It attempts to strike a balance between the parent’s right to decide and the extended family’s right to visit children. The Court of Appeals case is In re the Parental Responsibilities Concerning M.D.E. and Concerning Spencer, No. 12CA2482.

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