When your extended family and the extended family of your spouse learn of your divorce, they frequently are concerned about the impact it will have on their relationship with your children. Grandparents wonder if they have any rights and can be involved someway in the divorce process. The easy answer to that question is yes and no.
It is generally assumed that when the children are with one parent, that parent will see your extended family if you want them to. Although grandparents can join the litigation and ask for timeshare on their own, that makes the litigation more complicated.
Also, there may be reasons you do not want your parents or siblings to have contact with your children. Presenting this to the court airs your family’s “dirty laundry” and can make the whole process more uncomfortable and litigious.
In consensual dispute resolution processes like mediation and collaborative divorce, agreements about if and how the children will spend time with extended family can be part of the final settlement agreement and co-parenting plan.
Collaborative Divorce and Extended Family Contact
In the collaborative process, there is the opportunity to discuss the children’s relationship with the extended family of each parent . The children may have deep, wonderful bonds with their extended family on one or both parent’s side which you and your spouse will likely want to foster.
If that is true, you and your spouse will want to discuss facilitating them spending time together. For example, if one family holds special celebrations on the 4th of July, you can build that into your parenting agreement. If there is anticipation of a family reunion, you and your spouse can commit that you will work together so your children will be able to attend, even if the date of the reunion is not during the time the children are routinely with that parent.
Having these conversations and accommodating and encouraging the relationships the children have with their extended family of each parent will help them thrive.
Contact Chase, Berenstein and Murray, Counselors at Law
For more information about how the collaborative process works, and how it can help you create a co-parenting plan that encourages the continuing extended family relationships, contact us at Chase, Berenstein and Murray, Counselors at Law.