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Keeping Things Cool With the In-laws During Divorce


We’ve all heard the bad jokes about difficult mothers-in-laws, but, setting those aside, there are some very real questions about how interactions with in-laws will be affected when a couple divorces.  What will the relationship between in-laws look like during and after a divorce? There is no single answer that speaks to every situation, and whatever relationship you had prior to the divorce announcement will likely be part of any equation. The degree to which you may choose to keep in touch with in-laws is something that will require some real thought.

Changing Family Dynamics 

If you’ve always cared deeply for your in-laws, your divorce may be very difficult for the relationships with your ex’s family.  Will you still be the favorite aunt or uncle to your nieces and nephews? Will the week-end golf outings with your father-in-law or morning jogs with your sister-in-law go the way of dinosaurs?  Be prepared for things to shift in these relationships, regardless of where they stood a month ago or a year ago. While certain members of your former family may hope to maintain a close relationship with you, your ex may feel betrayed by the idea.  Will you put people you care about in the middle of that conflict?

Conversely, what if you would love to erase all memories of that family, but they keep clinging to you? Perhaps they’re hoping for a reconciliation, or maybe they just think you’re the best thing since sliced bread. Either way, you just want out of the whole thing.  How should you handle that situation?

Remember Basic Etiquette 

Regardless of the moving pieces in your life, remember that these people have been affected by your divorce, too, and they may have some pretty strong feelings deserving of kid glove treatment. So your interactions should adhere to some basic guidelines:

  1. Preserve the boundaries you need to feel secure.
  2. If you have kids, keep them as the top priority. If their relationships with your in-laws will be continuing, it behooves you to keep things cordial.
  3. Coordinate on holidays and special occasions so that there’s a clear understanding as to the time, gifts, and expectations for everyone involved.
  4. Consider asking in-laws how they see the future relationship with you and working to balance their wishes with your own.
  5. Watch what you say—and avoid creating or aggravating disputes.
  6. Never badmouth your ex to their family!  They absolutely do not need to hear about the  unhappiness that occurred in your marriage!
    Take your time.  Everyone will need the space it takes to process what’s happening, so be patient with yourself and with them.

Doing What Works 

The overarching theme here is that families can be extremely complicated, and breaking them up can hurt on lots of levels.  At WiseLieberman our dedicated Boca Raton family attorneys are here to assist in achieving the best possible outcomes for you.  To discuss, schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.

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