Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law

Grandparent Rights in Colorado Custody Cases with Joel Pratt | Episode 93

March 17, 2022 Ryan Kalamaya & Amy Goscha Season 1 Episode 93
Divorce at Altitude: A Podcast on Colorado Family Law
Grandparent Rights in Colorado Custody Cases with Joel Pratt | Episode 93
Show Notes Transcript

Custody cases are frequently complex, but when the grandparents are involved, they can become even more so. Talking to us today about grandparent's rights in Colorado custody cases is family law practitioner, attorney, and partner at Dailey & Pratt, Joel Pratt. We start the episode with a definition of what "Standing" means, and why this is crucial in allowing a grandparent's involvement.

Joel breaks down Troxel v. Granville, and how this impacts a grandparent's access to a grandchild while using a hypothetical example of how Colorado case law would be applied. We find out how a dependency-neglect case overcomes the Troxel presumption, and what happens when a previously unfit parent becomes a fit parent. 

Joel also provides some insight into why he advises the light-touch approach to grandparent involvement, and how grandparents can provide a calming influence. We also discuss why family law generally gives more weight to the parents than the grandparents, and why Joel feels that grandparent’s rights in Colorado are fairly limited.


Key Points From This Episode:

  • What “Standing” means, and how it applies to grandparents.
  • Why standing matters, and the laws surrounding a grandparent’s roles and rights around a grandchild’s wellbeing. 
  • Troxel v Granville, and how this case impacts a grandparent’s access to a grandchild. 
  • A hypothetical example of how Colorado case law will be applied. 
  • Understanding the underlying presumption of Troxel that a parent’s decision is presumptively in the best interest of the child. 
  • A walk-through of a dependency-neglect case, and the implication for the Troxel presumption. 
  • Why a family law case will generally give more weight to the parent's constitutional rights. 
  • A hypothetical case illustrating what Joel means about family law and the parent's constitutional rights. 
  • How the allocation of parental responsibilities changes if a parent who lost a dependency-neglect case becomes a fit parent. 
  • The light-touch approach, and what happens when a parent and a grandparent with parental responsibilities are aligned. 
  • Keeping grandparents involved as a calming influence. 
  • Why Joel feels grandparents’ rights in Colorado are fairly limited.
  • Some examples of grandparents having recognized rights. 
  • Joel’s walk-through of grandparents’ rights and jurisdiction. 
  • Eric Wolf’s situation, and what his first steps should be. 
  • The dynamics Joel has experienced when working with parents and grandparents.


What is Divorce at Altitude?

Ryan Kalamaya and Amy Goscha provide tips and recommendations on issues related to divorce, separation, and co-parenting in Colorado. Ryan and Amy are the founding partners of an innovative and ambitious law firm, Kalamaya | Goscha, that pushes the boundaries to discover new frontiers in family law, personal injuries, and criminal defense in Colorado.

If you have additional questions or would like to speak to one of our attorneys, give us a call at 970-429-5784 or email us at info@kalamaya.law.

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DISCLAIMER: THE COMMENTARY AND OPINIONS ON THIS PODCAST IS FOR ENTERTAINMENT AND INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES AND NOT FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING LEGAL ADVICE. CONTACT AN ATTORNEY IN YOUR STATE OR AREA TO OBTAIN LEGAL ADVICE ON ANY OF THESE ISSUES.

Ryan Kalamaya (4s):
I'm Ryan Kalamaya

Amy Goscha (6s):
And Amy, Goscha

Ryan Kalamaya (8s):
Welcome to Divorce at Altitude, a podcast on Colorado family law.

Amy Goscha (13s):
The force is not easy. It really sucks. Trust me. I know, besides being an experienced divorce attorney, I'm also a divorce client,

Ryan Kalamaya (21s):
Whether you are someone considering divorce or a fellow family law attorney listening for weekly tips and insight into topics related to divorce, toe parenting and separation in Colorado. Welcome back to another episode of Divorce at Altitude. This is Ryan Kalamaya. We are continuing our journey through different issues related to family law that are not direct divorces, but are related in some capacity. And so we've had a previous episode on dependency and neglect with Amy Goscha. But this week we're going to be talking about Grandparent Rights and we are joined by Joel Pratt.

Ryan Kalamaya (1m 6s):
He is a Colorado native Joel. We'll get into how unique we are these days as Colorado natives, but Joel received his bachelor's degree at the university of Colorado in Boulder, in English literature. And then he went on to university of Michigan law school and came back home. And we'll talk a little bit about that journey. He is experiencing in large civil law firms. He did his time in big law as we call it in the legal industry. And now serves as partner in Colorado Springs at the law office of daily and Pratt. In that role, he litigates a pellet cases in all substantive practice areas and trial court cases.

Ryan Kalamaya (1m 46s):
As a family lawyer, he specializes in legally and factually complex cases, whether due to constitutional and we'll get into constitutional issues in this episode or jurisdictional issues as well as complex property disputes in Custody cases, he is loosely gated, several trials and appeals on behalf of grandparents, both in domestic and juvenile courts. Before I go on Joel, welcome to the show.

Joel Pratt (2m 12s):
Thanks so much for having me Ryan.

Ryan Kalamaya (2m 13s):
So I mentioned we're both Colorado natives and I did some background on you and we were talking off show, you went to cherry Creek. Can you walk people through your journey and to being a family, lawyer and appellate attorney in Colorado Springs?

Joel Pratt (2m 29s):
Sure. So I grew up in Southeast Denver, Colorado. I did go to Cherokee high school. I went to the university of Colorado at Boulder. And after that, I worked for a little bit and decided to go to law school and was lucky enough to get into the university of Michigan. Spent some time dealing with some cold and snowy winters in Michigan and enjoyed my time there other than the weather was really thrilled to be able to come back and work in Denver for a little bit of time. As you said, in big law with large civil litigation firms, and then a position opened up with a lawyer who I had actually worked with as a staff member in the law firm before I had gone to law school. And it was a good fit to come back here.

Joel Pratt (3m 10s):
And recently in the last couple of years, took over as a partner, as part of the business. So going from working at the front desk to helping run the joint. So it's been a great journey and loving what we're doing here.

Ryan Kalamaya (3m 23s):
So full journey. I think I had an opposite educational background. I left Colorado and then came back for law school. But you know, it's one of those things where you become jaded. I think growing up here and you guys kind of do some time outside the state to really appreciate how wonderful Colorado is so well, we're going to talk about Grandparent Rights and let's first start with one of the issues it's a legal issue for what's called standing. So for listeners that don't know what standing is, it comes up in Grandparent cases. So can you explain to our audience what is standing and how does it come up in cases involving grandparents?

Joel Pratt (4m 6s):
Absolutely. So standing is a legal doctrine. We hear about it often in the federal court context, but it comes up in Grandparent Rights cases. A lot standing is just what us lawyers call the ability to walk into court and ask for something because you can't just walk into a courthouse and ask for anything. I can't go into a courthouse and ask for custody of somebody else's children. I can't go into a courthouse and just ask for somebody else to pay me. I have to have a reason to do that. I have to have a cause of action and I have to be the right person to be asking for the right thing. And so in grandparents' rights cases that comes up because parents have constitutional rights to the care and custody of their own children.

Joel Pratt (4m 48s):
And so whether a grandparent has standing where the ability to come in and ask for an allocation of parental responsibilities is sort of the first threshold question in any grandparent oriented case.

Ryan Kalamaya (5m 2s):
And I should also back up maybe another step in, even from a higher level, Joel, we'll get into the practical applications. But when we say Grandparent cases, what are we talking about? Can you give kind of an example for those that may be unfamiliar?

Joel Pratt (5m 19s):
Sure. So there are lots of reasons that grandparents may be involved in cases. One typical reason is when you've got very young parents or inexperienced parents, other situations, or perhaps there is a dependency neglect case, which I know you covered on a previous podcast where parenting time has been allocated to a non-parent sometimes a grandparent. And then sometimes you just have grandparents who, for whatever reason have been involved for a long time, whether it's because the parents have needed help or for other reasons. And that Grandparent involvement has morphed into a more parent-like relationship. And so it can come up in all kinds of contexts

Ryan Kalamaya (5m 57s):
For listeners interested in learning more. We did have episode 85 where Amy and I talked about dependency neglect cases. We'll refer to those and discuss those. But Joel, would you affair kind of a example would be, as you know, people to the podcast, know we have an Erica Melanie Wolf story, divorce story, but it would the example be where Eric and Melanie are going through a divorce. And let's say that they're really young or, you know, they might have so many issues in terms of alcohol or drug abuse or the conflict, but whatever the reason may be, if Eric's father calls you up and says, Hey, I know Eric and Melanie are going through a divorce, worried about my grand children.

Ryan Kalamaya (6m 40s):
I want to make sure I'm really involved. I take them skiing and I really enjoy skiing with my kid, my grandchildren. I want to make sure that that continues. Is that a scenario, one scenario where a grandparent could be involved in parenting issues?

Joel Pratt (6m 58s):
Sure. So I think that's a great example of the kind of calls we'll get sometimes where you'll have a grandparent who knows that there's some conflict going on between their child and their child's spouse. And they know that the grandkids are, they have some relationship with their grandkids and they want to know what they can do to preserve that. Do they need to, you know, come into the case separately? How do they interact with the case? What kind of rights do they have and what can they ask a court to do?

Ryan Kalamaya (7m 25s):
Right. Well, and going back to our standing issue, you know, what would the standing before Eric's dad, for example, I'm a grandfather coming in. How does standing matter when the grandfather is asking for a particular kind of relief or asking you questions? What are the things that you're going to get, get into with him?

Joel Pratt (7m 48s):
Sure. So I think the first question for standing is, is a factual question of what is grandpa's relationship like with the children and what is his caretaking been of the children? So the baseline is that any natural grandparent or great-grandparent has the ability to intervene in a custody case under the children's code under title 19, but under title 19 can also intervene in domestic relations family law cases. And what the statute says is that the grandparent can intervene for the purpose of asking for visitation. My read of that statute is that that's a relatively limited ask, is that a grandparent can ask for visitation that does not mean a grandparent can ask for, I think, substantial parenting time or decision-making, which is oftentimes when grandparents talk about their concerns about their kids.

Joel Pratt (8m 41s):
Sometimes what they're really talking about is decision-making so that's the baseline level

Ryan Kalamaya (8m 47s):
Baseline. So, and that's really with regards to standing. So can you explain for listeners that kind of interrelationship or the differences, some constitutional issues in connection with standing?

Joel Pratt (8m 60s):
Sure. So the next level that a grandparent can ask for is there are certain times under title 14 that a grandparent can ask for standing and can ask actually for an allocation of parental responsibilities, including an allocation of decision-making. Those are generally cases. The way the common law doctrine was written, refer to them as psychological parent cases. They're now under 14, 10, 1 23. And what it really comes down to is, has the grandparent for a substantial period of time defined in the statute as six months, actually taken on a parental role in addition to, or separately from the natural parents.

Joel Pratt (9m 44s):
And the way that interacts to answer your question with the constitutional standing issue is that there's this case out there from 2000, from the U S Supreme court called Troxel V Granville. And what Troxel determined was that natural biological parents have fundamental, constitutional rights to the care and custody of their children, that Trump the rights of any non-parent. And that includes a grandparent. And so the standing issue necessarily is sort of the first step. It's a statutory analysis, but it's the first step in a constitutional analysis to make sure that anybody in the universe can't just walk into a court and intervene in a custody case and say, you know, I want to have custody of these children.

Joel Pratt (10m 30s):
It limits the universe of people that can ask particularly for parenting time. But I think even likely more importantly, decision-making, who's really making decisions who is parenting these children.

Ryan Kalamaya (10m 42s):
An example might be where there's a dispute over going to school. And the grandparents may just fundamentally disagree or health. For example, we've had previous guests on Katie loom talk about the constitutional issues involved in, in decision-making like vaccines, for example, as a hot topic. And there might be some issues. So you can walk us through just off the cuff with if there's a dispute between Eric and his father or the grandfather on whether or not the children should be vaccinated for COVID, for example, how would that all work?

Joel Pratt (11m 21s):
Sure. So let's stipulate for the purpose of your hypothetical that Eric's father, for some reason has standing to intervene in the case. So let's say that Eric's father has taken care of the child exclusively for the last six months, and therefore has standing to intervene and actually asked for an allocation parental responsibilities. Then the next step is that the constitutional analysis then really applies at the substantive stage. So under Colorado case law, the natural parent is going to be presumed to be acting in the child's best interests. So Eric's decision about vaccines, whatever that decision is, is going to be given special with Eric's father then has the opportunity to rebut the presumption that Eric is acting in the child's best interest.

Joel Pratt (12m 7s):
And it's believed that the standard has to be at least clear and convincing evidence so higher than a preponderance of the evidence standard. That's one of the ways in which the constitution is acting here is that the non-parent has to then overcome that presumption by more than just a preponderance of the evidence. And then once that presumption has been overcome, if it's overcome by clear and convincing evidence, and it often is not in domestic relations cases, but if that presumption is overcome, then the court can make a decision about whether Eric or Eric's father decision is in the child's best interest.

Ryan Kalamaya (12m 41s):
Got it. So do you think it's fair to say that there's a, an abundance of Colorado case law that relies on Troxel in other contexts for essentially the proposition that parents there is a, a strong weight or there is the courts really defer to biological parents in many contexts where Troxel applies and whether or not they're acting in the best interest of the children or are just fit parents in and of themselves.

Joel Pratt (13m 15s):
So, because I have a contract with the office of responding parents council, I think I'm contractually obligated to say that it's quite frequent in our case law, that we see the trucks will presumption overcome. And actually in the majority of cases you see in the dependency neglect context, the adjudication itself is the thing that overcomes the tropical presumption. But if we put those cases aside and we'll really talking about domestic relations cases, then yes, there are a few cases and they uniformly do state that the parents' decision is presumptively in the children's best interests. And it's relatively rare to have a domestic relations court make a finding of unfitness against a natural parent.

Joel Pratt (13m 57s):
Who's not involved in the dependency and neglect system.

Ryan Kalamaya (13m 60s):
So can you explain a little bit more about the DNN context and how that might differ from the domestic relations or like a divorce, for example?

Joel Pratt (14m 10s):
Sure. And you know, this is how so many grandparents rights cases come about. So we can kind of walk through how that comes up. So in a dependency neglect case, the initial step about whether the court really even has jurisdiction to do much of anything and order the parents to do anything is the adjudication phase of the case. And at the adjudication phase of the case, it's determined whether the children are dependent or neglected. If the children are adjudicated dependent or neglected at that point, the Troxel presumption that a parent is acting in the children's best interest, at least under the law is overcome. Now a parent's fitness can be restored and a finding of fitness does restore. The trucks will presumption even posted judication, but there's a legal presumption that once a child has been adjudicated dependent and neglected, absent a finding of rehabilitation and fitness that the trucks will presumption has been overcome.

Joel Pratt (15m 2s):
That is why in dependency neglect cases. One of the ways that a dependency neglect case can close is the allocation of parental responsibilities. And that's often done to a non-parent. And the reason a non-parent is more likely to be given an allocation parental responsibilities in a dependency neglect case is precisely because the Troxel presumption has been overcome in a family law case. You generally have two fit parents, or at least one fit parent, and maybe a grandparent or somebody else, but you have a more of a civil dispute, not between the state and the parents, but between the number of private parties and the private party with the most interest in a case like that instead of the state, or instead of, you know, the child's welfare being paramount, the parent's constitutional right.

Joel Pratt (15m 51s):
And the parent's decision about their children is going to be given a lot more weight in the family law context. When things tend to get really complicated is when a dependency neglect case closes with an allocation of parental responsibilities, that case is then certified into the domestic relations court. And instead of being subject to title 19, become subject to title 14 and the modification provisions in the domestic relations law. So that's when things can get constitutionally quite complicated.

Ryan Kalamaya (16m 21s):
So as just an example, and maybe for listeners that are having a hard time tracking, cause I mean, Joel, you obviously know this inside now, but maybe it might be helpful to summarize. So Eric and Melanie Wolf, you know, there's some issue where they there's a dependency neglect case that is opened by the state. The state then determines that the children between Eric Melanie are dependent and neglected and looks elsewhere. And Eric's father comes in and says, listen, like they're incapable of taking care of the kids right now. And they start, you know, becoming more involved and they ultimately become kind of the primary parents and that closes the DNN case, but then whatever the issues, oftentimes they're related between Eric and Melanie result in a divorce between Eric and Melanie.

Ryan Kalamaya (17m 14s):
And, but meanwhile, the grandparent Eric's grandfather is sitting there wondering what are the children going to do when they go back to Eric and Melanie? And at what point is that kind of the scenario that you just went over in terms of, when you say APR, it can be both an allocation of parental responsibilities case, which is essentially a custody action between unmarried people, but it can also be relevant to a divorce in terms of allocation of parental responsibilities in a divorce. Right?

Joel Pratt (17m 45s):
Correct. So I think what I would push back on in that example is what happens the Eric and Melanie example, let's say that a simple example, Eric and Melanie both have problems with drug addiction and they're struggling with that and they're not able to take care of their child. And so grandpa steps in he's allocated parental responsibilities out of the dependency neglect case. And so he kind of becomes the primary parent then Eric and Melanie, or at least one of them, maybe they get divorced and maybe one of them gets sober, gets treatment, get sober, solves the drug problem and takes care of the issues that led to the department's intervention and led to grandpa being the primary parent there. The next step for Eric is not to go back to the department of human services and say, I want my kids back.

Joel Pratt (18m 29s):
The next step for Eric is to actually go to the domestic relations court and do a modification of parenting time. Just like any parent in a divorce who wants to change the parenting time schedule under the law would go back to the domestic relations court. Eric would do exactly the same thing. He would actually file exactly the same form in the domestic relations court and would ask the court to allocate him more parenting time. And decision-making now that he's become a fit parent or now that he alleges he's become a fit parent.

Ryan Kalamaya (18m 57s):
Okay. So then what happens if any difference in the analysis or the issue if Eric and his dad are somehow aligned and the Eric wants his dad to be involved? Like what, what happens in that circumstance?

Joel Pratt (19m 12s):
So I think if you're representing Eric's dad, you then have an interesting choice to me because if they become aligned, Eric's dad has, may have important information for the court. May have some good ideas about what's in the child's best interest, but if he and Eric are in agreement, then it may be best to have Eric be the primary advocate for whatever he wants, particularly if Melanie is involved on the other side and is still struggling with some of the problems that that had led initially to the APR to grandpa. So I often talk to my clients in these grandparents' situations about the light touch approach, which is that particularly if you've got a, you know, an adult child who is parenting and who is aligned with your position, it may be better from a constitutional and legal standpoint to have that child take the primary position because that person has all of the constitutional rights that the grandparent does not.

Ryan Kalamaya (20m 8s):
And we talked about this in listeners may recall with Katie loom in terms of the relief requested, and it's kind of the ends justify the means or form over substance, whatever you want to call it. But what I'm hearing you say is Eric and his dad could say, well, Eric can get, you know, primary care of the children. And then that allows him to delegate, or his father is going to be more involved during Eric's time. And that, that might be an easier path for Eric's father to exercise his grandparent rights, as opposed to Eric's intervening and trying to get involved directly because there might be some constitutional or other hurdles to him being allocated any sort of responsibility for the children.

Joel Pratt (21m 0s):
That's precisely. Right. And the thing I would add too, is that then as both the grandparent and a grandparent's council, the next thing to think about is, is my presence in this case causing more conflict, or is it solving more conflict? Because if the grandparent has a particularly negative relationship with the other party, the adverse party stepping back may be the thing that allows the conflict to calm down. In other cases, grandparents can be calming influences, but especially if there has been either a history of domestic violence or any kind of other history of really high conflict between the two parents, sometimes grandparents are the folks who can really step in and, you know, turn the heat down on the conflict.

Joel Pratt (21m 43s):
And when that occurs, you know, oftentimes it's good to have the grandparent, certainly not coming in guns blazing, you know, with their torch and Pitchfork knocking at the door, but certainly have the grandparents continue to be involved in a formal way to keep things calm.

Ryan Kalamaya (22m 0s):
How would you, Joel, how would you describe just in general brights for grandparents in Colorado?

Joel Pratt (22m 7s):
You know, I think grandparents have fairly limited rights. I think, you know, the primary right, that they have is granted under title 19, which is just to ask for visitation, but there's no guarantee they can even get that. Because if a, if two parents who are both fits say, we don't want to have grandparents with separate visitation. There's not a lot the court is going to do about that. The court is going to have to make some special finding for a grandparent, even in that situation. And then aside from that, unless the grandparent has really acted as a parent and has really been deeply involved, sort of standing in the shoes as a parent, they may not be able to even ask the court for anything, let alone be granted something,

Ryan Kalamaya (22m 46s):
Can you for, you know, listeners, could you give maybe some examples of situations in which the courts have looked favorably upon grandparents intervening or otherwise, and, you know, just so people understand what are examples of grandparents who are, you know, having valid, recognized rights in Colorado?

Joel Pratt (23m 10s):
Sure. So I think it ranges from parents who are struggling with issues like domestic violence and drug abuse. There are also, I have seen and worked on cases where the parents are, have some kind of disability where they can do some parenting, but not all of the parenting where both parents and the children have some kind of either mental or physical limitation and the parent's limitation doesn't allow them to take care of the children's limitation. So there are, those are the situations in which, you know, where grandparents step in to fill gaps that the parents have. Those are really the situations in which courts look favorably on Grandparent intervention.

Joel Pratt (23m 53s):
And I contrast that to when you have a grandparent who just has a contentious relationship with their children, and can't always work out parenting time, especially as, you know, maybe things fall apart in the parents' marriage, when the grandparents are getting even more cut out or having even more conflict with both their child and their, you know, soon to be ex in-laws. Those are situations in which the court is going to look less favorably. I think on grandparent intervention.

Ryan Kalamaya (24m 18s):
Well, we talked about, you know, throwing a, another scenario out to flesh out this idea before we started recording. And I think it might be helpful for people to understand just kind of how crazy sometimes our cases are. And one example is What if Eric calls you Joel and says, listen, I've got a 16 year old son and he just got an 18 year old girl pregnant. And you know, she was here in Boulder or they live in Boulder and she's gone back to California. She was just visiting friend at CU Boulder, where we both went to school for a period of time.

Ryan Kalamaya (24m 58s):
And what if Eric calls you in that circumstance? Can you walk us through some of the, the issues, if he's a grandparent? I mean, it had been literally a young grandparent, what are the kinds of issues that he's going to have to navigate? Cause I know that one thing in your bio and we have discussed offline is, you know, the jurisdictional issues. And we've talked a little bit about that with the UCC JEA with Brian Walters is a previous episode, but walk listeners through some of the issues with grandparent rights and jurisdiction, because I know you deal with some of those issues sometimes inter related.

Joel Pratt (25m 35s):
Sure. And I'll just back up and say, one of the most interesting things about doing grandparent cases is you often get all of the issues that are legally complex, layered in a single case. And that's both constitutional statutory jurisdictional. It's all in there. That's what can make working on them, both infuriating and super interesting. So in the scenario you provide, I think the first overarching question is which court is going to hear this case. If you have somebody who had been here visiting, but the child is not born yet. She goes back to California and it's assumed that the child is going to be born in California when the child is born, California is the child's home state. And so without some other jurisdictional hook or some other agreement, the home state jurisdiction is going to apply.

Joel Pratt (26m 19s):
And the California court is very likely to take jurisdiction. And The Colorado court is very likely to defer to the California court, even if both parents file on the same day in the various jurisdictions. So, you know, the answer to Eric and that situation is you should probably go call a lawyer in the county in which the mom just moved to, because that's going to be the place where this is going to be heard. Now, if the situation is switched and we're in Colorado, you know, then the analysis we've just been talking about about, about the fitness of the parents is going to come into play. But even, so those grandparents presumptively are not going to start with any rights other than the right under 19 1, 1 17 for visitation.

Ryan Kalamaya (27m 1s):
Yeah. And for the listeners, you know, they know that I'm an avid skier and Bodie Miller, the Olympic skier, he actually had, it was several years ago, but there was an issue where he got a girl pregnant in California and then she moved to New York and there was some interstate really complex litigation over which state and whether an unborn child, you could file a paternity or some sort of custody action for an unborn child. So, but let's assume that, you know, she moves from Boulder to Colorado Springs. How would that change or what would the steps be for Eric Wolf as a grandparent once the child is born?

Joel Pratt (27m 45s):
Well? So the first thing for Eric is that if there's not a custody case between the parents, there's really nothing for him to do because he's not going to have standing to open a case and file a petition under 14, 10, 1 23, which is the grandparents standing for allocation of parental responsibility statute. And the children's code, the title 19 requests requires there to already be an open case. So the answer is he's going to have to wait for the two of them to figure out how they want to handle custody. If they're going to try to be together, if they're going to be separate, if there's going to be some allocation, parental responsibilities. And if there's going to be a contested case at all, because if the two of them agreed, there's really not a whole lot for grandpa, you know, in this case, Eric, to do in that case, it's going to be, he's going to have to rely a lot more on his skills as a parent of his own child than on the court system.

Ryan Kalamaya (28m 37s):
Yeah. And Jill, talk to me about the dynamic between representing Eric and his son or both of them at the same time or how that plays out, because there might be an alignment of interests. We talked about that earlier, but what happens with the scope of representation and who you're representing or could potentially represent in that scenario?

Joel Pratt (28m 60s):
So it's generally my practice not to do a represent in those cases because of the danger of conflict is too high. And then the parties have invested time and resources in getting me up to speed and me helping them. And then if they get crossways, I have to just walk away from the case under our ethics rules. Under that circumstance, my general approach would be to represent Eric's son because that's the person with an interest. And then if Eric wanted to be involved, provided he continued to be aligned. You know, I often do work with whether they're young parents or older parents, you know, grandparents are often somewhere in the background of cases. And so I'm often getting information and things from folks like that, but I don't enter any kind of formal representation of that person because of the danger of adverse representation, if there's adversity or there's presumptive adversity, or I see signs of that, I will often just encourage that Grandparent to go get another lawyer so that we just have somebody who we're all working with early on.

Joel Pratt (29m 60s):
But I, you know, as a general rule, I won't be able to represent both. And I will be very clear about that upfront,

Ryan Kalamaya (30m 5s):
Right? So you can have Eric son with his attorney, client privilege for purposes of discussing the case with Eric and essentially try to help out the whole family. But there may be a circumstance in which you'll take the son and then bring in another lawyer to represent Eric in that circumstance,

Joel Pratt (30m 26s):
Correct. Or sometimes I'll get contacted by Eric son's lawyer will call me and say, Hey, grandpa needs an attorney. Are you willing to come in and work on that side so that we avoid any, any conflict and all these and these conversations can happen between lawyers. And so I've come at it from both sides, but that's generally how I'm gonna approach it.

Ryan Kalamaya (30m 45s):
Well, Joel, for any grandparents or other people that want to learn more about, you we'll have links to your bio in show notes and your other information related to you, but can you tell people where they can find you if they want to find out more about you and your practice?

Joel Pratt (31m 2s):
Absolutely. So my website is daily Pratt law. That's D a I L E Y P R a T T L a w.com. My email is just my first name, Joel, J O E l@dailyprattlaw.com. And the phone number for the firm is 7 1 9 4 7 3 0 8 8 Ford.

Ryan Kalamaya (31m 25s):
Well, Joel, I appreciate the time I as listeners in probably evidence of my questioning. I don't know that much about Grandparent Rights. So it's always interesting to learn more and you know, certainly we'll be reaching out to you on any cases involving a Grandparent Rights, but until next time, thank you. And that is going to be a wrap.

Joel Pratt (31m 45s):
Thanks so much. I really enjoyed it.

Ryan Kalamaya (31m 47s):
Hey everyone. This is Ryan again, and thank you for joining us on Divorce at Altitude. If you found our tips, insight or discussion, helpful, please tell a friend about this podcast for show notes, additional resources or links mentioned on today's episode. Visit Divorce at Altitude dot com. Follow us on apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen in. Many of our episodes are also posted on YouTube. You can also find Amy and me at Kalamaya dot LA or 9 7 3 1 5 2 3 6 5 that's K a L a M a Y a.law.