I have written articles on this topic before but am finding that in-law and interference from other family member is becoming a larger and larger reason for the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage lately. It just happens so often.
I had a client who consulted me the other day with his sister with a view at getting divorced. His sister was actually the one who phoned me as she was concerned about her brother. She was on holiday from the United Kingdom and explained to me that her brother was looking a lot older these days due to all the problems he was experiencing in his marriage.
At the consultation I asked my client whether he believed that the marriage had broken down irretrievably and he said yes. He explained to me that one of the main problems in his marriage was that his in-laws were interfering. They were accusing him behind his back of being a bad father and a bad husband.
My client explained to me that he and his wife had two young children aged four and two. During the day the two children stayed at his parents-in-law’s house. My client and his wife both worked but didn’t earn much and couldn’t really afford to send their children to a proper crèche.
The parents-in-law were however trying to control how the children should be disciplined and were continuously also asking my client for money. Even though my client did not have to pay his parents-in-law a certain set cash sum for looking after the children, they were forever making loans from my client and not repaying him.
My client and his sister explained to me that they did not believe that the parents-in-law were looking after the children as a favour, but were doing it more to try and extract money from my client. The in-laws according to my client were also not very good with handling finances and were always in debt. The bank was furthermore about to foreclose on their house.
I explained to my client that what he was experiencing is very common in divorce cases. I always urge people who are going through problems in their marriage rather sometimes to distance themselves from in-laws, parents and other family who interfere. The more parents and parents-in-law are involved in your life the more say they will have as to how children should be raised.
The problem in our society these days is that married couples really struggle financially and sometimes are forced to ask parents or parents-in-law for help with the children. There is no option available to some. This involvement of parents could work very well or could cause major problems in a marriage. Each situation is different.
The role of grandparents is merely to help out where they can with transport or babysitting. I have just seen it happen so many times that when grandparents become too involved in the lives of children and grandchildren, this leads to all sorts of problems in a marriage.
article written by Cape Town divorce lawyer, Peter M Baker
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