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What role can grandparents play for grandkids whose parents are divorcing?

Child custody cases can have many different contingencies. For example, in some families, issues arise after a divorce when a parent wants to relocate to another state. If that parent is the one with primary physical custody of a child or children, the court that finalized the divorce agreement will have to decide whether to approve the relocation.

In other families, grandparents may be closely involved with the children. This doesn't usually mean they will get custody of a child after the parents' split up. More commonly, grandparents face the challenge of continuing to do their part, despite the emotional turbulence the grandchildren are experiencing following their parents' breakup.

In Lake County and across the country, grandparents can play important roles in helping their grandchildren navigate the cross-currents of a divorce. Indeed, the subject has begun to attract the attention of mental health professionals.

One psychotherapist, Lillian Carson, has written a book about the subject. The title is "The Essential Grandparents' Guide to Divorce: Making a Difference in the Family."

In addition to being a psychotherapist, Carson is also a grandmother of 10. She urges grandparents who are hosting visits from grandchildren to offer a neutral space that can be an emotional safety zone for children who are often caught in the middle of their parents' arguments.

In essence, Carson encourages grandparents to focus on building their own relationship with grandchildren. This generally works much better, she believes, than trying to second-guess or micromanage what may have happened in the relationship between the grandchildren's parents.

This doesn't mean deliberately avoiding the subject of the parent's divorce. It shouldn't become the elephant in the room. But it shouldn't be the primary focus, either.

Source: "Helping Grandkids Survive Divorce," Huffington Post, 3-29-13

To learn more about our practice, please visit our page on child custody.

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