Your in-laws can still be your in-laws after a divorce if you would like to remain part of their family. If you had a bad relationship with your in-laws or remarried after divorce, you may find it best to part ways and no longer regard them as your in-laws.
Divorce can create a lot of confusion, especially when it comes to family ties, such as the relationship between you and your in-laws.
Let’s explore potential circumstances that may impact whether your in-laws are still your in-laws after you have divorced your partner.
Related Reading: Do In-Laws Count as Family Relatives?
Circumstances When In-Laws Can Be In-Laws After Divorce
Here are potential circumstances that may result in your in-laws being your in-laws after you and your partner have divorced.
Your In-Laws Might Be In-Laws If You Have Kids With Your Ex
Children have a magical way of bringing people together, and parents getting a divorce is no exception.
Given that grandparents, aunts, and uncles are a blessing to every child, and every child is a blessing to their relatives, it is understandable that your in-laws would want to remain your in-laws if you have children with your ex.
If you had a positive relationship with your in-laws during the marriage and feel comfortable maintaining a similar relationship after the divorce, that is perfectly fine.
However, your relationship with your ex’s family as your in-laws post-divorce need not be the same as your relationship during your marriage.
Given that your marriage is over, it is not uncommon for familial ties to be altered. Out of love for your children, try to maintain an amicable relationship with your in-laws.
Your children will be spending a lot of time with their family for years to come and would like to have a positive experience with them. Despite any bad blood between you and your ex, try to keep things civil between you and your in-laws.
Your In-Laws Might Be In-Laws If You Maintain A Relationship
Relationships are primarily focused on emotions as opposed to titles.
While the title “in-laws” is something attached to a marriage title, the substance of the relationship between in-laws is strongly based on the emotional connections between the parties. After all, a mother-in-law and a monster-in-law are both regarded as in-laws.
If you and your sister-in-law enjoyed brunches together, watched the kids’ soccer games together, and overall enjoyed one another’s presence, then it may be viable for her to be still regarded as one of your in-laws.
Similarly, if you and your father-in-law enjoyed a few beers in front of the television on a warm Saturday afternoon, it only makes sense that you would want to uphold those traditions and still regard him as your father-in-law.
Naturally, relationships are a two-way street. Therefore, both parties will need to agree (tacitly or expressly) that they will continue to regard one another as in-laws and maintain the relationship despite the divorce.
Related Reading: Tips for Talking to In-Laws About Divorce
Circumstances When In-Laws Won’t Be In-Laws After Divorce
Here are potential circumstances that may result in your in-laws not being your in-laws after you and your partner have divorced.
Your In-Laws Might Not Be Your In-Laws After A Messy Divorce
Families often feel the need to pick sides during a divorce, and it’s only natural for your family to choose your side, and likewise for your ex and their family.
If you and your ex experience a messy divorce that involves a lengthy court battle with lots of negotiation, it may be that your family or their family has become resentful of you.
If your divorce involved many arguments where you and your ex struggled to come to terms with the divorce, it might have caused tension between you and your ex’s family, or vice versa.
From the family’s viewpoint, they may see a long negotiation process as you being unwilling to compromise and act in a considerate manner towards your ex.
If there is a messy divorce, your in-laws might not be your in-laws if the divorce proceedings taint their view of you or your view of them to the point where you no longer see the possibility of maintaining a relationship with them post-divorce.
Related Reading: Tips for Keeping In-Laws Away From Your Baby
Your In-Laws Might Not Be In-Laws If You Remarry
After a divorce, you will receive new in-laws from your new spouse in the event that you remarry.
Naturally, you will want to embrace your new in-laws and become part of their family, given that your new spouse is now also your family; however, it might be somewhat challenging for you to manage to have new in-laws and old in-laws and ensure that neither feels neglected.
If you are unable to maintain a relationship with your new and old in-laws, you will most likely need to distance yourself from your old in-laws so that you can fully embrace your new in-laws.
You might find that your new in-laws find it strange or are suspicious of your relationship with your old in-laws. Your new spouse might also have some concerns surrounding you engaging with your ex’s family and fear that the two of you might get back together.
Additionally, you might find that your old in-laws struggle to accept that you have new in-laws and become territorial over you.
Balancing the relationship between your old in-laws and new in-laws can become particularly challenging around the holidays.
You are likely to feel a sense of nostalgia after spending previous special occasions with your previous in-laws. However, given that you have a new spouse and new in-laws, you are unofficially obliged to spend the holidays with them.
Unless your new spouse is comfortable with you remaining closely in contact with your ex’s family, it is likely that your in-laws will no longer be your in-laws after divorce.
Your In-Laws Might Not Be In-Laws If Your Ex Can’t See You
Divorce is often an incredibly heart-breaking experience that affects each person differently.
While you might be comfortable seeing your ex after the divorce, your ex might not feel the same way. Given that your in-laws are relationally tied to your ex, it is likely that you will run into your ex when visiting your in-laws.
If your ex is not comfortable seeing you after the divorce, their family will likely avoid placing them in the uncomfortable position of you visiting them when it hurts their loved one.
If your ex will not or cannot see you, they may request that their family cuts ties with you for their emotional wellbeing. If your ex cannot or will not see you, it is likely that your in-laws will not be your in-laws.
Your In-Laws Might Not Be In-Laws If You Can’t See Your Ex
You are almost guaranteed to run into your ex at some point when visiting your in-laws.
If you feel you are not comfortable seeing your ex or struggle to participate in a conversation that concerns your ex, then it might be best to create some distance between you and their family.
If you are not ready to see your ex post-divorce, it is likely that your in-laws will no longer be regarded as your in-laws. However, the fact that they are no longer your in-laws does not change the love and respect you have for them and they have for you.
Perhaps, one day in the future, you will be able to meet them for coffee at a shopping mall where you can spend time together in a carefree manner.
Related Reading: Can My Wife Take Everything in A Divorce?
If you had a good relationship with your in-laws during your marriage and considered them your family apart from your marriage, they can be regarded as your in-laws after divorce. However, if the marital relationship ended on bad terms, your in-laws might not still be your in-laws after divorce.
After earning his Master of Social Work from the University of Toronto, Stuart gained experience working with families in community mental health settings and in the child protection sector. Since becoming a father himself, Stuart now works in private practice offering psychotherapy services. FatherResource is an opportunity for Stuart to share what he learns on his journey as a father with a larger audience.