When you end a marriage, you don’t only divorce your spouse — you also part ways with your former in-laws. However, you may have developed a strong bond with your in-laws and wish to keep in touch with them. Or if you have children, you might have to maintain a healthy relationship with your former spouse’s family whether you got along with them during the marriage or not. Here are some tips on how to deal with former in-laws after divorce.

Put in the Effort

Maintaining a good relationship with your former in-laws after divorce can be challenging — and it may require putting in additional effort. Remember, divorce is a difficult emotional process for everyone. As you experience the grief, anger, hurt, and sadness that comes with the loss of a marriage, your in-laws may also be feeling a wide range of emotions. It’s best to be direct with your in-laws and talk with them about how you can make your new relationship work. Focus on how the relationship impacts the children and a positive relationship with them will help in the long run.

Be Realistic About Your Expectations

Depending on the relationship you had with your in-laws during the marriage, it can be hard to determine whether you should continue to keep in touch — and how often. In some cases, it may be best to cut ties completely. But in other situations, you may need to stay in contact so your children will be able to visit with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins and family can attend important moments in your childrens’ lives.

Put Your Children First

If your relationship with your in-laws was always contentious, try to put aside your negative feelings toward them for the sake of your children. Even if you don’t want to maintain a relationship with your former in-laws, your children should still get to know the other side of their family and be able to foster meaningful relationships with their relatives. Keep an open mind about your children sharing special occasions with their grandparents, getting to know their aunts and uncles, and spending birthdays with their cousins.

Establish Boundaries

The dynamics with your in-laws may change considerably after a divorce. Importantly, having a good relationship with them means communicating your expectations for the relationship and setting definitive boundaries. Having an open and honest conversation can help to ensure there are no misunderstandings and everyone is on the same page. If you and your former spouse are able to communicate to your extended family what your expectations are of them towards your former spouse and the children, they will not have to guess and fill in the blank that may be not what you want. Sometimes extended family needs permission to have an ongoing relationship with their child’s former spouse.

Don’t Ask Your In-Laws to Take Sides

Even if your former spouse was responsible for the breakdown of the marriage, don’t ask your in-laws to take sides or speak negatively about your former spouse to them. Doing so can not only cause more emotional pain for them, but it can also harm your relationship with them moving forward. Try to focus on the future of your relationship with them, rather than dwell on the past events that transpired in your marriage.

Be Respectful

There is no way you will be able to know how your in-laws will treat your relationship with them after your divorce. However, it’s vital to keep in mind that a positive relationship with your in-laws requires mutual respect. It’s essential not to say anything negative about them to your children — or within their earshot. If you need to address an issue with your in-laws, it is best to do so directly with them. Nonetheless, do not let yourself be a doormat. If they can not treat you with basic respect, you may have to rethink your boundaries.

Be Patient and Stay Positive

The aftermath of divorce and the emotions that come with it can be challenging for everyone to navigate. Be patient with yourself, your children, and your in-laws. Everyone may need some time to heal emotionally and process the change in your family’s dynamic. By being patient and keeping a positive attitude, you will eventually find a good balance that works for everyone. Time may be what is needed and things can change with time. Don’t close the door forever.

Seek the Support You Need

Divorce might be one of the toughest situations you ever face in your lifetime. You might consider seeking emotional support — whether it’s by joining a support group, seeing a therapist, or simply talking with a trusted friend. A mental health professional or people who have also been through divorce may provide you with valuable insight and tips on how to deal with ex-in-laws after your marriage has ended.

Consider Collaborative Divorce

Resolving your issues with your soon-to-be former spouse by using mediation or the collaborative divorce process can help set the groundwork for having a healthy relationship with your in-laws. By using a non-adversarial, low-conflict alternative dispute resolution method, you can work toward developing creative solutions that work for your family. By maintaining amicability with your ex-spouse, you can also help to keep your positive relationships intact with your former in-laws.

Contact an Experienced Divorce and Family Law Attorney

Knowing how to deal with ex-in-laws after your marriage ends can be hard — and it’s only one of the emotional hurdles you may face during divorce. If you’re parting ways with your spouse, it’s crucial to have a compassionate and skilled divorce attorney by your side to guide you through the process and help to take the burden off your shoulders. Divorce and family law attorney Louise Livesay has been dedicated to helping clients in the Twin Cities area resolve their divorce cases respectfully and peacefully for over two decades. We welcome you to contact us online for a consultation or by calling 651-294-2338.