Divorce is not just between spouses. It reverberates through the entire family. Grandparents are hit hard during this transition. They may feel powerless as their loyalties are tested, their relationship with their child is taxed and their time with their grandchildren is jeopardized.
If you are a grandparent and your child is going through a divorce, there are some things you can do – and some things you definitely should not do – that may prove beneficial.
What You Say And Do Can Impact The Divorce Case
Parental alienation is a big concern during divorce cases in which there are child custody disputes. This is when one of the parents attempts to sway the child against the other parent. Attorneys will warn a divorcing parent not to speak negatively about the other parent to the child. Anything that could be perceived as attempting to turn the child against the other parent could backfire and result in undesirable child custody arrangements. This warning also applies to grandparents. What you say about your ex-son-in-law or ex-daughter-in-law to your grandchild could be dragged into court.
Your Grandchild’s Safe Haven
An article by the American Grandparents Association offers some good pointers. One of the most important is a reminder that your grandchild may view your home as a safe haven. Visiting you may be a huge relief, as it allows your grandchild to get away from any animosity between the divorcing parents. You may want to take care to ensure that none of that animosity bleeds over into your household.
The article also discusses the complex issue of your relationship with your ex-daughter-in-law or ex-son-in-law. Your instinct as a parent may be to side with your child, right or wrong. You may worry that any communication with the ex would be a betrayal. Remember not only to look at the issue from your child’s perspective, but your grandchild’s perspective as well. Maintaining a friendly relationship with the ex may help to protect your own relationship with your grandchild.
When Grandparents Should Seek Legal Counsel
There are situations in which grandparents run the risk of being cut out of their grandchildren’s lives entirely in a divorce. In Texas, grandparents do not have automatic rights to access their grandchildren. However, the court can be petitioned for grandchild visitation.
In these situations, it can be valuable to work with an experienced family law attorney who understands child custody laws and can take steps to protect the valuable and enriching relationship between grandparent and grandchild. At Heinrich Christian, PLLC, we help protect the rights of grandparents.