What to do as grandparents during a child’s divorce

We all know parents and children alike have it tough during the divorce process, but not as much attention goes to the grandparents. Yet grandparents are central members of most families, and they can find themselves at the center of conflict and emotional grief when divorce strikes.

Traversing the divorce process can be even more complicated for grandparents because they have little legal standing in most cases. Grandparents rarely have legal rights to children, which means they can be easily cut out of the process and — in an extreme situation — cut out of the lives of their grandchildren altogether.

During a marriage dissolution, any grandparent’s conduct is key. For grandparents in Georgia and nationally who are watching their children go through a divorce, here are some steps they can take to protect themselves and help the process.

First, stay out of conflict, or at least don’t make things worse. Criticizing one of the parents or taking sides can be harmful to children who may only be seeking your love and understanding. The greatest risk, though, is that you could turn one of the parents against you and become a target of that conflict, rather than just an uncomfortable third party.

And while it can be very tempting to offer advice — particularly when you are watching your child’s marriage ending — your two cents are probably not especially wanted. Plus, it can be hard to offer much useful advice, because many of the inner-workings of the marriage may be unobservable to you.

You should continue to talk and maintain a relationship with your grandchildren as much as possible, though, maintaining as much consistency in your relationship as you can in order to provide some stability to the children. And even if you’re inclined to take sides, remember that the process is hard on everyone involved. Showing compassion can be one of the most effective steps toward healing.

Source: Huffington Post, “Grandparenting well when adult children divorce,” Marie Hartwell-Walker, Aug. 20, 2012

  • Grandparents are often intimately involved in and affected by divorce, with a number of legal matters potentially impacting them, such as visitation and child custody. Our experienced firm routinely deals with virtually all areas of family law, including grandparents’ rights.

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