You just spoke to your son or daughter and found out that he/she is getting a divorce. You are concerned, distressed and worried their spouse will not let you see your grandchildren. This is a common scenario. Divorces where a grandparent was highly involved with the grandchildren, even acting as caregivers, can be challenging to navigate, especially when all adults involved want to control who sees the children and when.
If you are a grandparent that was providing daycare or after care for your grandchildren, you may be worried you will not be able to continue caring for your grandchildren. You are probably feeling that it is unfair to punish the impartial grandparents who only want to continue seeing and caring for their grandchildren. But imagine for a moment that your child’s spouse might not see you as impartial. Maybe you have said negative or derogatory things to that spouse that leads them to believe you are going to say negative things about them to their children, or that you are going to take sides with your child against them. If you have not said anything negative and have remained impartial, the best thing you can do is remain impartial, and continue conveying your support.
Unfortunately, in Florida, there are no grandparent’s rights to see grandchildren in a divorce. Hopefully everyone involved in caring for the children can remain neutral around the children which is in their best interests. Many family members do not realize that children see themselves as half of each parent. If the other parent or any family member says anything bad about the other parent, the children internalize that criticism as something bad within them, not just the other parent. This can cause low self-esteem, depression or anxiety in the child. Most families would never intentionally cause these issues for their grandchildren, but it happens because families don’t realize the negative impact of what they say about the spouse to or around the child.
If you are a grandparent that has been caring for your grandchildren after school or providing daycare you should have a talk with your child’s spouse. Express your sadness at the divorce and how much you will miss the family unit. You should reassure him/her that you do not intend to take sides, that you think he/she is a great parent and that you are available and are happy to continue providing moral support to him/her through the divorce process and after. Express your concerns about remaining in the children’s lives and remember to accept responsibility for your feelings. By expressing yourself in a non-judgmental manner and remaining open, you will likely remain front and center in your grandchildren’s lives both during and after the divorce process.
If you are a grandparent who is the primary caregiver for your grandchildren because your child or the other parent is unable to do so, your situation is different and you may have different rights and responsibilities under Florida law.