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How does divorce affect family relations, in particular seeing your grandchildren?

Article by Ceri Wheeldon

divorcing grandparents  image

English life has never truly been the pastoral idyll some people would have us believe, but even so, life in England is moving further and further away from what it once was. Whether this is a good or bad thing is subjective, but there are certainly symptoms of this process that we can analyse. One example is the increasing utility of divorce proceedings across a broad spectrum of English life, including much later in life which historically has been very uncommon. This has been attributed a label: ‘Silver Separators‘.


Divorce affects people regardless of their age. There are a number of reasons why it is becoming more common, even as people get older. Largely, this can be placed with the fact that people are living for much longer. Unhappiness can be stimulated by retirement, and it’s possible that cracks in a relationship may appear once the time consuming acts of work and child rearing are over.

 The grandchildren find it most upsetting

In such situations, often it is those youngest in the family, grandchildren, who are likely to find it most upsetting. They are unable to understand why the familial structure they grew up with dissipates, as they are inclined to think of their surroundings as constant at an early age. Children can ask some of the most uncomfortable, yet also most poignant questions. These questions, such as: ‘are you unhappy?’ will I still be able to see you?’ and ‘does this mean Mum and Dad are going to divorce as well?’ should be answered without frustration, despite how stressful the situation may be. Answers should be honest, but also this honesty must be reconciled with an understanding of what is ‘age-appropriate’. There is a duty of sorts, and by placing the focus on the grandchild and reassuring them that they will be a part of your life now and in the future is important.


Obviously divorces happen for a range of reasons, but usually it is in everyone’s interest to maintain, at the very least, a civil relationship for family events. Some parents have been known to set ground-rules for their own parents in the event of a divorce for the sake of the grandchildren. An example of which would be not bringing up the other grandparent in a pejorative way in front of said grandchild.

How will your divorce impact children and grandchildren ?


Sukhbeer Shergill, Head of Family Law at Yorkshire based law firm, Jordans discusses “If a couple are concerned about how a divorce may impact their children or grandchildren they should speak with an experienced Resolution trained family solicitor. To be accepted as a Resolution member solicitors must have shown the Law Society that they have a non-confrontational approach to family law which takes into account the needs of the whole family. When dealing with children the highest possible level of respect, professionalism and understanding from an unbiased independent party can be greatly beneficial.”


It is an increasingly evident fact of life that people will get divorced, including later in life. This is merely a reflection of modernity, and should not necessarily be construed as a bad thing. If two people are unhappy with each other, should they be expected to maintain a relationship that no longer works? What is of utmost importance is that any grandchildren in this unfortunate situation are protected as best as possible.


Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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