When a divorce involves older people (commonly known as a gray divorce), its effects on the couple’s adult children are often overlooked or dismissed. In fact, it is not uncommon for adult children to be treated as third parties even though they are stakeholders in their parents’ lives.
Generally, the law does not factor in the interests of adult children during the divorce even when they live with their parents. However, despite the lack of legal consideration, a gray divorce does impact adult children in the following ways:
Casting doubt on their own relationships
It is not unusual for children to draw inspiration from their parents’ marriage. As children grow older, they look up to their parents’ relationship as an example worth emulating. During their parents’ divorce, the adult children may reflect on their own relationships and wonder if their own marriages will work.
Getting caught up in their parents’ differences
It is not uncommon for divorcing parents to ask their adult children, either directly or indirectly, to take sides. This is especially common if the divorce is acrimonious and each parent believes they are right and that their children owe them allegiance and support. Obviously, this can put the children in a difficult position, especially if the parents are disparaging each other.
Dividing time and attention can be tricky
When a divorce involves underage children, the court will always set out a co-parenting plan that involves a custody and visitation arrangement. However, this is never the case when the children are adults. Following the parents’ divorce, adult children may have to figure out how best they can see and spend time with parents who will be living separately.
Divorce impacts children even if they are old enough to be independent of their parents’ decisions. Find out how you can handle a gray divorce with grace and respect.