Gray divorce is on the rise in the United States. A greater percentage of couples in their 50s and older are splitting up – sometimes after decades of marriage. The dissolution of such long-standing unions can create shockwaves, including in their adult children.
The divorce rate has tripled among those 65 and older over the last 20 years, according to the Pew Research Center. The divorce rate in the younger 25- to 39-year-olds demographic has dropped 21% during the same time (overall more divorces happen during these years).
Divorce in later years does have nuances not found in younger couples who split. Finances are often more complicated because these couples have had more time to accumulate assets. Deciding what is marital vs. separate property can be complex. From dividing retirement accounts to determining who stays in the home, there are many details to resolve. Children who are grown and out of the house are often an afterthought.
Divorce’s Impact on Older Children
The children of gray divorce might have a family of their own, but their parents’ split can still leave them questioning their own childhood. No matter their age, a child may still need to process feelings of hurt, sadness, loss, and anger. They may even begin to question their own marital relationship.
Adult children might pepper their parents with a multitude of questions:
- Did they only stay together to raise the kids?
- When did they stop loving each other?
- Were they ever happy together?
- Do they have a new romantic partner?
- Will they sell the childhood home?
- What do I tell my children?
- How will we celebrate holidays?
- What will happen to my childhood memorabilia?
Other concerns can be whether one of the parents will move in or require their financial support. College-age children may wonder whether their parents will stay fund their education.
Divorcing Parents Can Help Their Adult Children
Older married couples choose to end their union for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, they simply grow apart. Maybe they believe they have life goals they can only accomplish on their own. Whatever the motivation, how parents handle themselves during the divorce process influences how their children will react.
The following strategies can help adult children cope with divorce:
- The children should be told together, in person, by both parents whenever possible. Texting is a popular communication but inappropriate for this type of announcement.
- Ensure them that they are loved by both parents and the split isn’t their fault.
- Don’t badmouth or blame each other.
- Adult children are mature but don’t overshare intimate details.
- Don’t put children in the middle or ask them to referee conflicts.
- Children shouldn’t be used as quasi-therapists.
- Get along with your ex.
Children of all ages will need time to process their feelings. The divorce is in many regards a loss for them, too. Give them the space they need to grieve and find a new normal.
Compassionate Legal Counsel for Your New Jersey Divorce
Legal prowess is important but not the only skill that makes a truly effective divorce lawyer. At Lane & Lane, LLC, we listen to our clients. We ask questions to understand their goals, fears, and hopes. We thoroughly answer their questions.
We know divorce is difficult for all members of the family. As a client, you can have confidence that you will receive insightful, caring, and strategic legal representation. Whether your marriage lasted 4 or 40 years, our 60 years of combined experience in divorce and family law can help you navigate each step and process in your divorce.
Call (908) 259-6673 to schedule a consultation. You can also reach out through our online form. Initial consultations are free.