When you get married, you become a part of your spouse’s family, so one of the most painful aspects of divorce is losing your legal connection to these family members. Just because you will no longer be legally related to your in-laws, however, does not mean you cannot be friends. Maintaining relationships with your ex’s family can be especially valuable if you have children. After all, your mother-in-law will still be your child’s grandmother.
Give Things Time
Of course, getting along with your ex’s family is not always easy if there was a lot of hostility involved in your split. Former in-laws often feel pressured to take “sides,” and they may not choose yours. Alternatively, spending time with your in-laws may bring up painful memories of your ex and be too difficult for you – particularly right away.
As with any strained or changing relationship, allow time for healing and take things one step at a time. If you think your ex will be upset with you for staying involved in their family, wait until your divorce is finalized to reach out – it can help minimize conflict during the proceedings.
Also, remember that the divorce process naturally pits parties against one another, and you do not have to handle your case in court if you don’t want to. Consider resolving your disputes through mediation and filing for an uncontested divorce to keep things as friendly as possible with your entire family – in-laws included!
Reinvent Your Family
Divorce does not have to destroy the family you built with your spouse. Instead, it gives you and your spouse the opportunity to reimagine your family and set new boundaries. You get to choose whether to be bitter enemies or good friends, and you get the chance to do what is right for yourself and your children.
Unless your marriage involved emotional or physical abuse, maintaining a relationship with all members of the family is in your children’s best interests, too.
Speak Positively or Not at All
If staying friends with your ex and former in-laws is what’s best for you and your family, there is no reason you should not do so.
Still, you will need to be careful with what you say around each member of your family. For instance, you should never express negative sentiments about your ex in front of your children, and the best rule of thumb around family members who knows your ex is: “speak positively or not at all.”
Set boundaries about what you will and will not talk about pertaining to your ex or the divorce, and once again, give yourself time before getting in touch with your ex and former in-laws.
You might need a good long rant with your friends before you are ready to re-enter and reinvent your extended family, and that’s okay!
Make Room for Someone New
Eventually, your ex might fall in love again and bring someone new into the family. If you want to protect the family you have created post-divorce, make room for this person. Be as polite as possible and treat them with respect and goodwill.
Remember that the best relationship you can have with this person is one that advances your family’s best interests and know that he or she is not replacing you. You may even become friends with your ex’s new spouse, but be sure to maintain boundaries and don’t try to swap stories about your ex.
Take Advantage of Your Village
You may have heard the African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child,” and this is especially true after divorce. The more loving, supportive adults your children have in their lives, the happier and healthier they will be.
Maintaining positive relationships with your ex, your former in law’s, and your ex’s new partner can be good for you, too. This way, you have more love and support – and more people to call if you need help caring for your children.
Start Redefining Your Family Today
The smoother your divorce, the easier it is to rebuild your family. If you are considering a divorce and want to preserve family relationships, discuss your goals with Burch Shepard Family Law Group. Collectively, we have been helping people like you get the results they need for more than 100 years.
We are committed to our clients and offer case reviews to help them get started.
Call us at (949) 565-4158 or contact us online to learn more about your rights and legal options.