On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Child Custody on Wednesday, September 23, 2015.
When married parents get divorced, any custody decisions made by the court are likely to affect more than just the children and their two parents. In many cases, grandparents also experience the consequences of a child custody agreement – sometimes for better but often for worse. An acrimonious divorce can even lead to severed ties between grandparents and the grandchildren they love.
Here in Illinois, grandparents can sometimes petition the court for visitation rights. However, the process is complex and not all grandparents will have legal standing to bring a lawsuit. That being said, there are other, non-legal means by which grandparents can improve their chances of maintaining these important relationships after the grandchildren’s parents have divorced.
Generally speaking, the best way to ensure continued access to your grandchildren is to maintain a positive (or at least civil) relationship with both of the children’s parents. To that end, it is important to remain neutral and mutually supportive during and after divorce proceedings.
If you are a paternal grandparent, it may be a good idea to reach out to your former daughter-in-law to let her know that you are trying not to take sides in the divorce and that you’d like to keep seeing your grandchildren regularly. The same is true for maternal grandparents reaching out to a former son-in-law.
In many cases, divorcing parents will want to maintain relationships with extended family for the sake of their children (and perhaps for some free babysitting every now and then). But this is far less likely to happen if a parent worries that a former mother-in-law and father-in-law are taking sides against them.
Along those same lines, you should also be careful about what you say when you are with your grandchildren. If you are critical of or insulting to a former son-in-law or daughter-in-law, your grandkids will likely hear these criticisms and take them personally. Divorce often makes children feel like they are being forced to choose sides, and they may not want to visit as much if that narrative is reinforced by careless comments about one of their parents.
As a grandparent, you may play a crucial role in helping your grandchildren cope with divorce. And in doing so, you can strengthen your relationships with them.
If you are currently struggling with or worrying about how divorce could impact access to your grandchildren, please discuss your situation with a family law attorney to better understand your legal rights and options.