Are you a grandparent in Colorado who’s taking informal care and perhaps even informal custody of your grandchildren and you’re wondering, “Hey, how do I get that formally blessed by a court?” or,“ How do I make sure that my visitation that I’m doing anyway is an actual court order?”
Hi, I’m Marie Drake of the Drake Law Firm, and I can help answer these questions today if you’re a grandparent in that situation. First and foremost, and surprise, surprise, I’m a lawyer who’s telling you to seek legal counsel, now, we may not be the best fit, but I encourage you to at least go to a few law firms and interview a few lawyers who are familiar with grandparents rights and grandparents visitation in Colorado. So we’re going to talk about that today and some different steps that you can take. But first and foremost, don’t go it alone. I would seek out legal counsel if you’re in this situation. The first situation is where your son or your daughter are divorcing their spouse and there are children involved that you’ve been caring for, including informally having overnights with them on a regular basis. Now, the first thing that you could do is a motion to intervene in the case itself, in the divorce case. That’s a tougher road, and courts are reluctant to grant that. Unless, of course, you’ve been caring for the children and are an actual, say, psychological parent for the children. We do see situations like that, but that’s an uphill battle. The second situation is go ahead and file a motion within the divorce for grandparent’s visitation under a totally different statute.
And we’ve had success doing that. The other two avenues for grandparents who have informal physical custody of the children are guardianship and adoption. So we’ll talk about guardianship first. Guardianship is in probate court, not divorce court in Colorado. And guardianship usually happens when one of the parents has passed away, unfortunately.
Also, if the other parent is unable to care for the children, then they have to assent, they have to agree to the guardianship. The last and most drastic course of action for a grandparent would be to file a petition for adoption of the child. Now, this happens when the parent’s rights are terminated or the parents have passed away and sometimes it can be a battle if there are other relatives who want to adopt the child or children. It is a permanent solution, but there are also voluntary adoptions where someone is actually relinquishing and terminating their parental rights, but those are very drastic situations and often the court will not just let a parent voluntarily terminate their rights, but we have done adoptions and adoption can be a way to ensure that you have your rights as a grandparent to help and raise those grandchildren. If you have any questions about the process of making your informal arrangements around your grandparenting time and your care and custody of your grandchildren formal with the court, please give us a call here at the Drake Law Firm. We’re standing by and we’re ready to answer your questions.