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In-Laws And Divorce


When a couple divorces, it impacts lots of people besides just the couple themselves. Setting aside all of the snide witticisms about unmanageable mothers-in-laws, plenty of couples struggle with how to navigate interactions with in-laws.  While there’s no distinct answer that addresses every situation, there is universal understanding that these relationships will be changing. The contact with in-laws during and after the divorce could range from cordial to awkward to outright hostile, so for most people it’s wise to be ready for anything.

Change Can be Hard 

If you’re someone who’s had a great relationship with in-laws, a divorce can be a real challenge when it comes to dealing with your ex’s family.  You may have to deal with the fact that you no longer get to be the favorite aunt or uncle to your nieces and nephews, and the Saturday racquetball matches with your brother-in-law or early morning jogs with your sister-in-law could go the way of the dinosaurs.  Things will necessarily shift in these relationships, regardless of where they stood last week or last year. Sure, individual members of your former family may want to keep you in their lives, but what if your ex resents it?  Are you going to be willing to put them in the middle of that kind of family conflict?

If the relationship with the in-laws was shaky to begin with, you may have the problem of vulgarity and nastiness coming at you from all directions.  That’s no fun!

Alternatively, what if you are ready to wash your hands of the whole family, but they inexplicably cling to you?  Do they want you to reconcile with your ex? Do they simply adore your pot roast? Either way, you’re not interested.  Then what?

Basic Manners Always a Winner 

While it’s certainly true that one of the most heavily impacted people in this divorce is you, don’t forget that these people have been affected, too, and they may have some pretty strong feelings that you should acknowledge, whether or not you think they’re reasonable. So keep some general rules in mind for all of your interactions:

  1. Have a discussion about what they’d like to see in a future relationship with you, and work to balance their wishes with your own.
  2. Never say or do things to intentionally create or exacerbate controversy.
  3. If you have children, prioritize them and healthy relationships for them. Keep things cordial with the other family at a minimum, and friendly at best in order to lessen tension for the kids, who
  4. Develop a clear understanding around special occasions and holidays related to time, gifts, and expectations.
  5. Create and sustain the boundaries you need.
  6. Resist the temptation to badmouth your ex to them!  Whatever misery occurred in your marriage shouldn’t be rehashed with your spouse’s family!
  7. Give yourself and others the space necessary to process what’s happening.  Be kind to yourself; be kind to them.

Do What Works 

Undoubtedly, families can be pretty complicated, and breaking them up can hurt on levels you’ve never even considered.  At The Law Office of Hasson D. Barnes our experienced Baltimore 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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