Today I want to talk to you a little bit about grandparenting rights and circumstances where non-parents can have custody rights or parental responsibilities as they’re called in Colorado.
Years ago, there was a case that was decided by the United States Supreme Court called Troxel versus Granville. You should look it up and read that case. It’s a very interesting case. It basically says that the Supreme Court said that parents have a fundamental liberty interest in the care and custody of their children, but there are exceptions, so I want to talk to you a little bit about those.
What do you do when two parents have been involved in drug use for an extension of time and they’ve given the young children to one of the grandparents? I had a similar case like that in the last year where both parents were sent away to prison, one to a state prison, one to a federal prison, and the grandparents were raising the children because the parents were unavailable and unable to raise the children. The law in the state of Colorado says that if that’s what is the situation, a grandparent, or grandparents, or non-parents, can file a petition for allocation of parental responsibilities to obtain the very same rights that a parent would have with respect to decision-making and parenting time, holiday parenting time, as would parents, as if parents had filed the case. This gives grandparents custody rights.
Oftentimes in these cases, parents do not agree that the grandparents should have custody rights and that sets up a disputed legal case between grandparents and natural parents over the best interest of the children. You can also have non-parents, like an aunt, or an uncle, or a friend, who has had custody of children file a parental responsibilities case because of the amount of time that they’ve provided care for a child and how the biological parents have relinquished the care to a non-parent like an aunt or uncle.
You should consult with an attorney to determine whether or not you, as a grandparent or a non-parent, have such rights and can file a parental responsibilities case.