At Fellows & Quenzer, we work with our clients to identify the challenges the children face in the current situation with their parents and what steps can be put into place to ensure the safety of the children, to do what is best for the children.
Each county in Colorado seems to have its own unique attitude on grandparent rights cases. From our combined forty plus years of legal experience, we believe the attitudes of the Courts are not uniform across the State of Colorado. We spare no effort to help our clients negotiate the terrain presented by the county where their case is heard.
Each County in Colorado has their own slightly unique set of procedure steps for a grandparents rights case. Typically, the case starts with the filing of a petition in the county where the children live. The Court will issue a Case Management Order, which is an overview of what it expects each party to do to complete the case. The Court then schedules up to three different hearings to complete the case. The first hearing is called the Initial Status Conference (ISC). This conference is sometimes in front of a Judge or is often in front of a court facilitator who is not a Judge. It depends on the county. The facilitator cannot issue a court order unless both parties agree on a specific issue. The purpose of the ISC is for the Court to see what the status is, to go over any agreements the parties have and to set an appropriate hearing for any issues in dispute as well as to be advised of any special circumstances in the case. The ISC is almost always mandatory and is usually scheduled about 40 days after the petition was filed. The second hearing is called the Temporary Orders Hearing (TOH). This is a hearing in front of a Judge or Magistrate who has authority to issue orders in the case over the objection of one or all parties. Typically, TOH address the immediate needs of the parties for a parenting time schedule, location of the child's residence, and any other issue that needs to be immediately addressed. Court Orders from a TOH last until the Permanent Orders Hearing where they may continue or be completely changed. Not all cases have TOH. It depends upon the client's needs and the hostility of their grandparent rights case to determine whether a TOH is necessary. All cases do have the third hearing called a Permanent Orders Hearing (POH). At the POH, the Court will issue a final custody order. At the POH, the Court will decide all issues where there is no agreement between the parties. In some cases, where the parties have attorneys and the parties agree on all issues, the Court will not require the parties to appear in Court and it will issue Permanent custody orders after reviewing the case file and the parties' written agreement.
In Colorado, a grandparents rights case can be finished in a few weeks. This only happens when all the parties agree on all the issues. When the parties do not agree on all the issues early in the process, the typical Grandparent Rights case will last anywhere from four to eight months to finish. The time to finish the case depends on the issues in the case and most importantly, what county the case is being heard. Different counties seem to be regularly faster or slower than other counties. In the Denver area, typically cases in Arapahoe county take the longest to complete due to the crowded court docket in Arapahoe County and those in Denver County and Broomfield County seem to progress the quickest. In Pueblo County, the Court seems to move quickly similar to Denver County. Jefferson County courts have a lot of dedicated resources to family law cases which aid parties in getting their matters heard in a reasonable amount of time. Douglas County, even though it is tied to Arapahoe County as a judicial district, operates independently for domestic cases and cases move forward at a reasonable pace similar to cases in Jefferson County and Adams County.