When a marriage becomes broken and spouses can find no recourse other than divorce, it is likely to be a time filled with sadness and a sense of loss. When children are involved, they are also likely to experience sadness and loss at an even deeper level as the family they have known is forever changed. If the children have a good relationship with one or more of their grandparents, divorcing spouses may be able to use that relationship to help their children cope more easily with divorce and the subsequent changes to their lives.
Discuss the divorce privately with the grandparents as soon as possible
In order for divorcing parents and grandparents to work together for the sake of the children during a divorce, there will need to be a level of trust between all parties. Both members of the divorcing couple will need to feel confident that the grandparents will not attempt to turn the children against either parent and the grandparents will want to feel that their relationship with their grandchild will not be endangered.
In addition, divorcing parents should ask the grandparents what type of role they would like to have in the children's lives, such as how often they would like to have the children visit and how travel to and from the grandparent's home can be arranged.
Encourage children to develop a good relationship with their grandparents
If the grandparents are willing and able to assume or maintain a more active role in their grandchildren's lives, the next step is to encourage the children to develop a close grandchild-grandparent relationship.
This may be done by scheduling a frequent, regular outing with their grandparents each week or by allowing the children to phone them or use video messaging to chat with them frequently.
The additional attention children receive from a loving grandparent during an emotionally difficult time may help them deal with the changes to their family in a healthier manner than they might with little or no outside emotional support.
Consult with your divorce attorney before pursuing any formal agreement with a grandparent
Grandparents who are concerned about how they will fit into their grandchildren's lives after the parents divorce may feel the need for formal agreement that outlines how much time they get with their grandchild and how other details will be handled. While their intentions are likely to be honorable, divorcing spouses should discuss this type of situation carefully with their divorce lawyer before making any kind of a formal agreement. Doing this will help to avoid any legal issues that might arise regarding the grandparent's rights to the children and help to make the process as painless as possible.