High conflict divorces affect not just spouses and children, but also grandparents and other extended family. Suddenly there are a host of emotional issues to deal with as relatives try to maintain relationships with each spouse and children while the spouses are battling each other. Problems arise everywhere from dealing with holidays to simple visits with grandchildren. What makes matters worse is that relatives can provide much needed support to children to help them deal with the divorce. Yet family members may be afraid of getting involved or being perceived as favoring one side over another.

A recent article on the American Grandparents Association website offered some great tips on how grandparents can help grandkids survive divorce. Grandparents need to manage their own emotions as well as deal with their children’s and grandchildren’s feelings. As much as possible, grandparents should provide a neutral zone. They shouldn’t try to be therapists, but be good listeners and offer love and support. Importantly grandparents should try to maintain relationships with ex-spouses, particularly if they are the family of the noncustodial spouse. Research shows that when a father becomes a non-custodial parent, the child’s relationship with his or her paternal grandparents suffers. However, staying on good terms can be very difficult when there is a lot of animosity between the parties. That’s why collaborative divorce is so important.

Collaborative divorce enables parties to have more control over the divorce process and work out a solution themselves. Each party has an attorney and receives assistance from an interdisciplinary team of health care professionals and financial neutrals. The health care professionals are licensed health care individuals who identify impediments to the process and/or raise certain emotional concerns that need to be addressed. The financial neutral assists the parties in analyzing current spending and saving practices and prepare future budgets for the two new households that will need to be supported.

The benefits of collaborative practice extend to the entire family relationship. Spouses come together to achieve results that are based on their mutual concessions and family’s shared interests. They are able to move on from the fog of divorce and develop an amicable way to relate to each other and their families.

If you or a family member is going through a divorce, learn how collaborative practice can make the process less painful for everyone.