Part one: The role of grandparents after divorce

When adult children get divorced, grandparents often worry about what their role is going to be. Will they get to see their grandchildren as much? Will maintaining a relationship with an ex-son-in-law or ex-daughter-in-law seem like picking sides? How should grandparents talk to their grandchildren about the divorce?

According to research conducted by Jeanne Hilton, quite often when parents divorce and the father becomes the non-custodial parent, the relationship between the children and the paternal grandparents suffers. In situations where the father has the children every other weekend and some weeknights, time with the grandparents during those days and nights just becomes more difficult.

However, it does not have to be this way. Rather, it is recommended that children get to spend just as much time with their grandparents after a divorce as they did before the divorce.

For some grandparents this may mean continuing to have a relationship with an ex-son-in-law or ex-daughter-in-law. This should not be looked at as betraying their adult children, but rather recognizing that since children are involved ex-in-laws will continue to be a part of each other’s lives. This also helps to ensure that both parents are on board with the children spending time with grandparents regardless of whose parenting time it is.

If for some reason an adult child views maintaining contact with their ex-spouse as betrayal, the grandparent should clearly explain that this communication is important to maintaining a relationship with the grandchildren. Explain it is possible to be there emotionally for the adult child during the divorce, while also not having to pick a side for the sake of the grandchildren.

Aside from how to spend time together, grandparents should also keep in mind that talk of the divorce may surface when spending time with grandchildren. In our next post we’ll focus on what is appropriate talk and how parents should be involved.

Source: Huffington Post, “Helping Grandkids Survive Divorce,” March 29, 2013

  • Our law firm understands there are situations where divorced parents may try and unjustly keep the grandparents out of their grandchildren’s lives. We handle cases where grandparents are trying to establish visitation rights. To learn more, visit our St. Louis grandparents’ rights page.

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