§ 14-10-124.4. Family time for grandparents or great-grandparents--legislative declaration--definitions
(1)(a) The general assembly finds and declares that:
(I) A close relationship between grandparents or great-grandparents and grandchildren or great-grandchildren can be beneficial for the health and well-being of grandchildren or great-grandchildren; and
(II) Grandparents or great-grandparents may provide acceptance, patience, love, stability, wisdom, and support to grandchildren or great-grandchildren.
(b) The general assembly further finds that it may be in the best interests of grandchildren or great-grandchildren for grandparents or great-grandparents to be granted grandparent or great-grandparent family time because of the positive effects the relationship may have on a grandchild’s or great-grandchild’s health and well-being.
(2) As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires:
(a) “Grandparent” means a person who is the parent of a child’s father or mother, who is related to the child by blood, in whole or by half, adoption, or marriage; except that “grandparent” does not include the parent of a child’s legal father or mother whose parental rights have been terminated in accordance with sections 19-5-101 and 19-1-104(1)(d).
(b) “Great-grandparent” means a person who is the grandparent of a child’s father or mother, who is related to the child by blood, in whole or by half, adoption, or marriage; except that “great-grandparent” does not include the grandparent of a child’s legal father or mother whose parental rights have been terminated in accordance with sections 19-5-101 and 19-1-104(1)(d).
(c) “Grandparent or great-grandparent family time” or “grandparent family time” means any form of contact or engagement between grandparents or great-grandparents and their grandchildren or great-grandchildren for the purposes of preserving and strengthening family ties.
(3) Any grandparent or great-grandparent of a child may, in the manner set forth in this section, seek a court order granting reasonable grandparent family time with a grandchild or great-grandchild when there is or has been a child custody case or a case concerning the allocation of parental responsibilities with respect to that child. Because cases arise that do not directly deal with child custody or the allocation of parental responsibilities but nonetheless have an impact on the custody of, or parental responsibilities with respect to a child, for the purposes of this section, a “case concerning the allocation of parental responsibilities with respect to a child” includes any of the following, whether or not child custody was or parental responsibilities were specifically an issue:
(a) The marriage of the child’s parents has been declared invalid or has been dissolved by a court or a court has entered a decree of legal separation with regard to such marriage;
(b) Legal custody of or parental responsibilities with respect to the child have been given or allocated to a party other than the child’s parent or the child has been placed outside of and does not reside in the home of the child’s parent, excluding any child who has been placed for adoption or whose adoption has been legally finalized; or
(c) The child’s parent, who is the child of the grandparent or grandchild of the great-grandparent, has died.
(4) A party seeking a grandparent family time order shall submit, together with the party’s petition for grandparent family time, to the district court for the district in which the child resides, an affidavit setting forth facts supporting the requested order and shall give notice, together with a copy of the party’s affidavit, to each party involved in the allocation of parental responsibilities proceedings as determined by a court pursuant to this article 10. The party with legal custody or parental responsibilities as determined by a court pursuant to this article 10, may file opposing affidavits. If neither party requests a hearing, the court shall enter an order granting grandparent family time to the petitioning grandparent or great-grandparent only upon a finding that the grandparent family time is in the best interests of the child. A hearing must be held if either party so requests or if it appears to the court that it is in the best interests of the child that a hearing be held. At the hearing, parties submitting affidavits are allowed an opportunity to be heard. If, at the conclusion of the hearing, the court finds it is in the best interests of the child to grant grandparent family time to the petitioning grandparent or great-grandparent, the court shall enter an order granting grandparent family time. In determining the best interests of the child for the purpose of grandparent or great-grandparent family time, the court shall presume the parental determination regarding grandparent time is in the best interests of the child. A grandparent or great-grandparent may overcome the presumption upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence that the grandparent family time is in the child’s best interests. In making this determination, the court shall consider the factors described in section 14-10-124(1.5)(a).
(5) The court may appoint a legal representative of a child pursuant to section 14-10-116 to represent the best interests of the child in a proceeding pursuant to subsection (4) of this section.
(6) A grandparent or great-grandparent shall not file a petition seeking an order granting grandparent family time more than once every two years absent a showing of good cause. If the court finds there is good cause to file more than one such petition, it shall allow such additional petition to be filed and shall consider it. The court may order reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party. The court may not make any order restricting the movement of the child if such restriction is solely for the purpose of allowing the grandparent or great-grandparent the opportunity to exercise the grandparent’s or great-grandparent’s family time with the grandchild or great-grandchild.
(7) The court may establish, modify, or terminate grandparent family time if the order would serve the best interests of the child.
(8) An order establishing, granting, or denying parenting time rights to the parent of a child does not affect grandparent family time granted to a grandparent or great-grandparent as long as the grandparent family time is in the best interests of the child pursuant to this section.