How Divorce Affects Grandparents

Updated on April 20, 2021

When parents of minor children divorce, there is a shock sent throughout the entire family, as relationships are strained. Apart from the immediate family, who suffer the greatest, the child-grandparent relationship is plunged into turmoil. A child’s relationships with their grandparents are important for providing a nurturing environment. When parents divorce, grandparents can often feel uneasy and unsure about what they can do to help; they may fear losing close bonds with their grandchildren. Throughout this article, we will examine the ways in which parental divorce affects grandparents. 

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Supporting Your Child

During the divorce, grandparents will want to support their adult child as much as they can. They may want to storm in with a heavy bias against the other parent, which is understandable. The best thing a grandparent can do is remain neutral regardless of feelings towards other parties. Showing compassion and listening to your child is perfectly acceptable, but do not attempt to sway feelings in any direction.  

Seeing Grandchildren

Maintaining regular contact with your grandchildren is important because your relationship provides them with a space for comfort, fun, and love, and can help drastically during the transition period. Attempt to keep things as normal as possible when you see your grandchild, and reassure them that everything will be okay. If you aren’t able to see them on your regular schedule, you can keep in touch with them via phone or video calls. 

Most of the time, the relationship between child and grandparent is welcomed by both parents in a divorce. However, for whatever reason, one party could attempt to freeze your visitation, leaving you asking yourself –  do grandparents have visitation rights?

The short answer is yes, but it varies from state to state. As a grandparent, you should be able to file a formal right to visitation request. The family court will decide on the outcome solely based on the best outcome for the child, looking at factors like whether there was a strong relationship there beforehand – as long as everything is clear and there is no disruption to the parent-child relationship, then you should be granted visitation.   

The Other Parent

Your instinct will be to hold hostility towards the other parent, but they are going to be a part of your life in some way if they spend regular time with your grandchild. You may only see them in passing at family events, or if they drop your grandchild off, but building and keeping a positive relationship with the other parent is the best practice. If you were close to the other parent, that’s great, but consider taking steps back to protect the feelings of your adult child. 

Divorces are a tricky business that alters the family dynamics. As a grandparent, you need to be a source of calm for your child and granddaughter throughout the entire process. When you spend time with your grandchild, be neutral and stick to regular schedules. As hard as it might be, maintain a relationship with your ex-daughter/son-in-law. 

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