Helping your child maintain family ties beyond grandparents

Photo of attorney Melinda L. Singer

Even if you’d be happy never to see your in-laws again after your divorce, if you have children, they may have relationships that need to be maintained. Grandparents on both sides of the family are typically part of a child’s life for as long as they’re around. They may even continue to be part-time caregivers for you and included in your parenting plan.

It’s important, however, not to forget about other family members such as aunts, uncles and cousins whom your child is close to. They can help your child maintain some sense of continuity to both sides of their family as their parents break up.

You may not have a problem with your child continuing to see your former in-laws, as long as they don’t disparage you to your child or are otherwise a negative influence. However, you may consider it your co-parent’s responsibility to involve their side of the family in your child’s life. But, there’s more you should consider:

Why you might have to take the lead

That sounds good in theory. In reality, you may have to take initiative for that to happen. For example, it might mean letting your former brother-in-law take your child to a football game if they have an extra ticket during your parenting time. It could mean reaching out to in-laws to invite your child’s cousins to a birthday party you’re throwing if you’re pretty sure your co-parent will forget.

Even if your co-parent doesn’t reciprocate, remember that you’re doing this for your child – not for your co-parent or in-laws. If you haven’t yet worked out your parenting plan, if you both have family in the area, it’s worth considering including a provision or two regarding each of your families and their continued relationship with your child. With experienced legal guidance, you can draft provisions that are in your child’s best interests.

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