One of the most overlooked strategies when approaching child custody and parenting time is the role of a grandparent in a divorce. It is very common to have conflicting feelings about the parents of a soon-to-be former spouse and how they fit into your short and long term plans as a co-parent. How might the grandparents help to support the children during and after the divorce?
It is important to keep one thing in mind when considering child custody and parenting time in a divorce case: the best interests of the child(ren). This is the primary consideration the Court will bring to any custody or parenting time issue. The Judge in your case will expect both parents to place the best interests of the child above their own if they wish to share parenting responsibilities.
It is in the best interests of a child to maintain existing relationships and patterns. Grandparents can provide an additional level of support, stability and comfort to children of divorce. If the grandparent(s) used to attend sporting events or extra-curricular activities they should continue to do so. If grandparents live farther away it is important to keep a regular schedule for the child(ren) to video chat, text or talk on the phone.
It is important to have an open, candid conversation with each grandparent. They need to understand the role of a grandparent in a divorce and what to say or do around the grandchildren. One of the most important ground rules is to remain “neutral” and not to take sides or speak negatively about either of their grandchildren’s parents. Likewise, each of the co-parents should encourage continuing relationships with each grandparent and speak positively about them to the children.
Another important element of the role of a grandparent in a divorce is to keep their time with the children (especially if they are younger) as fun and engaged as possible. This can provide a welcome break from their normal schedule and burdens while also providing an opportunity to provide essential love and support.
The fact of the matter is the parents of your former spouse are going to be in the lives of your children for months and years to come. You’ll be seeing them at important activities in your children’s lives as well as landmark events such as graduations, weddings and perhaps even holidays. Take time to think about the role of a grandparent in a divorce and how you may all work together to support the children through the divorce and after.