Chase, Berenstein and Murray, Counselors at Law provides collaborative divorce solutions to clients in San Mateo, San Francisco and Santa Clara counties.

Divorce: Do You Have to Divorce the Extended Family Too?

In the turmoil of divorce, do you need to sever ties with your soon-to-be ex-spouse’s extended family? Let’s look at how to maintain relationships with the extended family and how doing so might impact everyone involved.

If you have children, it can be important to preserve their relationship with members of their extended family. Children often bear the brunt of divorce, and face uncertainties about familial relationships. It can benefit children if rather than completely cutting ties, you are able to adapt and redefine relationships with extended family members to accommodate the changes brought about by the divorce.  By fostering positive connections with both sides of the extended family, it is possible to create a supportive environment for your children. This ensures that they can continue to maintain bonds with aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins without the fear of straining relationships.

The quality of post-divorce relationships largely depends on the cooperation between you and your ex-spouse. If you can navigate the divorce process amicably, you have the power to influence how your families respond. Communicating openly about the desire to maintain positive connections and encouraging the extended family to do the same can go a long way.  By clearly communicating your expectations to family members, you can prevent negativity from seeping into the post-divorce dynamics. This includes discouraging family members from badmouthing your ex-spouse and refraining from creating unnecessary conflicts.

Families typically will rally around the divorcing member of their family, but you and your spouse have a responsibility in shaping the narrative. By opting for Collaborative Divorce or Mediation processes, you can convey to your families that the separation and divorce is being handled with maturity and respect. This, in turn, encourages the extended family to recognize that they remain family to both you, and especially to your children.

Divorcing the extended family does not have to be an inevitable consequence of marital separation and divorce. Prioritizing the well-being of your children and maintaining a positive family environment can be one of the most significant gifts you can give to your family during the divorce process.

Lisa R. Murray is an experienced Collaborative Divorce attorney and Mediator. She can help you determine the goals for your divorce and post-divorce life.  She can be reached at 650-297-0367.