5 Ways Divorce Affects Adult Children

Most parents’ first thought in a divorce is not about them, but about their children. How a child can be emotionally affected by a divorce is a major concern for all parents, especially those who were children of divorce themselves. Some couples even “stay together for the kids” – until the kids are all out of the house or in college, and then they move forward with their divorce.

When it comes to adult children, however, it is often less of a priority. Adult children are not a legal consideration when it comes to divorce, even if they still live with their parents. Gray divorce – a term referring to the divorce of two people over the age of fifty – is happening more than it ever has before. So why are children over the age of eighteen treated as emotionally bulletproof?

Despite the lack of legal consideration, adult children can still be profoundly affected by divorce. Here are five ways that divorce can affect adult children:

  1. Casting doubt on relationships. It is not uncommon for their parents’ marriage to be a defining example for children. Many young children idolize their parents, and as they get older they can look up to their parents ability to make a relationship work. When parents get divorced, it can often force adult children to reflect on their own marriage or relationships, casting doubt on things that once felt solid. If your parents can’t even make marriage work, who is to say that you can?
  2. Putting them in a crossfire. Divorcing parents can often ask, through their words or actions, for their children to pick a side. Both parents want to feel that they are morally in the right and that their children agree with them over their ex. This process can be hurtful to adult children, even if it is just hearing one parent badmouth the other.
  3. Reversing the dynamics. What can be most shocking to adult children is that suddenly now their parents are coming to them to vent or talk about relationships. This can lead to a role reversal, where a child suddenly becomes a confidant for their parent. Parents can even come to their children for dating advice. Adjusting to this about-face is difficult for most children.
  4. Dividing time can be hard. For children under eighteen, the court will establish a set schedule of when the child is with which parent. This isn’t just practical, it also does the hard work of setting a schedule so that children can have time with both their parents. For adult children, there is no schedule set. Seeing your parents takes double the time at best when they are living separately. You may also live closer to one parent, and see them much more frequently than the other.
  5. Holidays get a lot harder. If you thought navigating the holidays before was tough, buckle up. Many adult children with divorced parents have to make time to travel to see both of them. Parents will also pass the guilt of spending more time with the other parent over to their children. The most wonderful time of the year can be the most difficult too.

Divorce affects all members of a family, even if they are old enough to have families of their own. Still, it is a necessary process for many couples. Handling it with the most grace and respect possible is important. For help with your divorce, or other family law, contact John M. Totten, P.C. today. Good people need good lawyers.

John M. Totten