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When Grandparents / in-Laws Get Involved in Your Divorce

When a couple decides to end their marriage, it is often a very emotional and difficult time not only for them and their children, but for their families as well. Oftentimes, my client’s parents are very involved in the two parties’ relationship and end up being even more involved in their divorce. As one can imagine, this can be a recipe for disaster. Through my practice, it has not been unusual to see my clients have parents that are extremely involved in their day-to-day lives, especially when it comes to helping take care of children. While parents will always want what is best for their children, I have found that their involvement in a divorce can have the opposite effect. This exact thing happened in a case I recently encountered. My client was the first in her family to be born in the United States. Her family was from Eastern Europe and, culturally, parents remain very involved in their children’s lives even when the “children” are adults with their own children.

When my client married her husband and had children, her mother moved in to help raise the children since both parties worked. My client married a man who was not of Eastern European descent and her mother’s involvement was unusual to her husband, especially since he was raised in a different type of environment and household. As can be imagined, the grandmother was extremely attached to the children and the children were attached to her, as well, given she lived with them since their birth. Unfortunately, when the parties’ marriage began deteriorating – Husband and Grandma started butting heads more than Husband and Wife. This created an extreme amount of tension and animosity in the household. Even though the grandmother had lived in the household for years prior to the marriage falling apart and cared for the children without issue, Husband did not want her present during the divorce.

Of course, the grandmother took the side of her daughter and would disagree with Husband quite often. This led to Husband filing a restraining order against both of the Wife’s parents. The restraining order caused the grandmother to be removed from the home and thereafter Grandfather was not allowed to set foot in the home, either. While ultimately the parties entered an agreement with parameters put in place so as to allow the grandmother to watch the children in the home while Husband was not present, the entire ordeal caused a great amount of stress not only on the adults involved, but the children as well. The final outcome may not be an ideal situation for anyone, but at least it allows the grandmother to still see the children during the pendency of the divorce.

Not all cases have to get to the point of a restraining order. I think it is important for parties to understand that involving their families in a divorce often makes the situation worse and escalates matters that otherwise could be solved amicably between the couple. If it so happens that parties live with one or even both sets of grandparents, then it would be wise for the couple to keep the grandparents as far removed from the process as possible. Parents usually will take the side of their children, which can make the other party in a divorce feel ostracized or bullied and, as a result, can in turn lead to the filing of a restraining order. While I do not recommend for parties to continue living with either set of grandparents during a divorce, I understand there may be no other choice if that is the status quo. Therefore, if your parents live with you and you are going through a divorce, I recommend you telling them the following:

  1. Communicate as little as possible with the other party;
  2. Do not ever talk badly about the other party in front of children;
  3. Do not talk badly about the other party to the children;
  4. Do not interfere with the children’s time with the parent;
  5. Do not undermine the other parent in front of the children;
  6. Promote the children’s relationship with the other parent;
  7. Stay out of arguments being had by the couple divorcing;

There will always be two sides to a story. The tips listed above can help alleviate tense situations and can help avoid restraining orders that will only cause added stress to an already difficult situation.

Contact a Middlesex County Divorce Attorney

If you are experiencing problems that involve your in-laws during a divorce process or if your parents have been served with a restraining order by your spouse, do not hesitate to call our office at Rozin | Golinder Law for a free consultation to see how we can help resolve the matter for you.

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