As if divorce isn’t hard enough, in-laws can make matters even worse. If you’re like many people, you may not care for your in-laws all that much. Of course, when you are going through a divorce, it can get a lot worse. Old emotions, bitterness, and harsh words can make every interaction feel unbearable. The truth is, of course, these people are your ex’s family. So, if you and your ex have children together, expect to still have some relationship with them, whether you want to or not.
On the other hand, the opposite is sometimes true. Some people become very close to a spouse’s parents or siblings. Divorce can end up cutting off ties with not just the ex, but also with cherished friends. With this in mind, here are some considerations for dealing with in-laws during a divorce.
Whether you love them or hate them, you need to set boundaries with ex in-laws. Chad Buck, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at Vanderbilt University, suggests that setting boundaries can be a healthy and necessary goal for everyone. He likens it to building an “imaginary fence” designed to protect you emotionally.
A good set of boundaries should accomplish most of the following:
- Take your needs and those of others into consideration
- Be clear and easy to understand
- Keep the goals in focus (don’t forget why you’re doing it)
- Give you more time and more clarity – not less
There are very few instances where boundaries are more critical to your emotional well-being than a divorce. Make sure your in-laws know where you stand and set clear limits on what you will and will not tolerate. Then stick to it. If you love your in-laws, you should still set clear boundaries, because you don’t want to invade your ex’s privacy or remain overly attached to a toxic relationship that you fought hard to get out of.
Agree on a Schedule
If you are the custodial parent of small children, it’s likely your ex’s parents and family may still want to spend time with the children. This should generally be encouraged; however, you have responsibilities and obligations of your own. Agree upon a reasonable schedule or manner in which former in-laws will see the children, and be firm about sticking to it.
Keep Roles Clearly in View
Regardless of which parent has custody, it’s important to keep in mind that a grandparent, uncle, aunt, or other relative is not a parent. As a parent of small children, you need to remember that you and your ex are ultimately the individuals responsible for making choices about how to raise your children, and you alone are the individuals who must reach agreements about their care. If your ex is unwilling to respect your role as a parent, or in-laws are attempting to circumvent your rights and privileges as a parent, you may wish to speak with a family law attorney to discuss your options.
How a Charleston Family Law Attorney Can Help
A dispute with your in-laws can disrupt a child’s life and drive a wedge between you and your ex, making it even more difficult to spend time with your kids or, worse yet, it could lead to serious conflicts that require court intervention. Many times, just having the experienced counsel of an attorney can help to clarify everyone’s rights and help people reach workable agreements that avoid the need for litigation. If you need help working through a challenging divorce or custody dispute, call Lauren Taylor Law for compassionate and experienced help today.
Lauren Taylor is a Family Law and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. She graduated from the Charlotte School of Law, and has been practicing for several years now. Lauren Taylor relies on her experience and passion to fight for you during this stressful time. Learn more about her experience here.