How Does Gray Divorce Affect Adult Children?
A “gray divorce,” also known as a “silver split” or “late-life divorce,” is a term used to describe when couples who are at or over 50 years old end their marriage. While this type of split was once a rare occurrence, it has become increasingly common over the last few decades. Consequently, the number of adult children whose parents are getting divorced is also increasing.
The effects of divorce on young children are well-known, but few consider the effects of a gray divorce on older children. Although adult children may not experience the same level of distress as younger children, divorce lawyers know from experience that children can still be negatively impacted by their parents’ separation long after they’ve become adults.
It Can Alter Their Views of the Past
Many adult children of gray divorces look back on their childhood and adolescence in a new light. While they may have previously believed their family was a happy one, the news of the divorce can cause them to re-evaluate their memories. Any positive memories of their family may become clouded with uncertainty and regret.
To help adult children with this, parents should try to preserve good memories. Go through old photos and videos together and reminisce about the good times. It can be comforting for adult children to know that their parents were once happy, even if things didn’t work out in the end.
They Might Feel Blindsided
Because adult children of gray divorce are often out of the house and don’t experience the same level of direct contact with their parents’ divorce proceedings, they may feel as though they have been excluded from an important part of their familial narrative. Feelings of anger may arise if they weren’t informed earlier or included in the decision-making process.
If possible, parents should talk with their adult children early on in the divorce proceedings. Explain the reasons for the split and allow them to provide input. They might not be able to change the outcome, but encouraging them to share their thoughts can help them feel heard and respected.
Relationship Anxiety May Increase
Adult children of gray divorces may also be more likely to develop commitment issues. Many are already married when their parents get divorced, and their feelings about their own marriage can be tainted by the news. They may have entered their marriage with their parents’ marriage as a model, and the news of their parents’ divorce can cause them to doubt their own relationship.
Parents can help their adult children cope with this feeling of relationship anxiety by reassuring them that all relationships are different. The divorce can serve as an example of what not to do and be a conversation starter on how to create a healthy, lasting marriage.
They May Have Financial Concerns
Gray divorces often come with a host of financial complexities as they may have amassed more assets throughout their marriage than younger couples. This can create a great deal of stress for adult children as they may feel an obligation to step in and help their parents financially.
Adult children may also worry about logistical issues such as wills, estates, and trusts. Parents should try to alleviate any money worries their children might have by showing them their financial plans and walking them through what will happen to their assets in the event of death or incapacitation after the divorce is finalized.
Overall, adult children are likely to approach their parents’ split differently than younger children. Understanding the unique factors that come with adult children of gray divorce can help parents best support their adult children during and after the process.
If you’re going through a gray divorce, reach out to your adult children and start the conversation; they may surprise you with their resilience and understanding. Then, contact a Pennsylvania divorce lawyer for reliable legal advice and support. With a trusted legal partner on your side, you can leave the details of your divorce to the professionals and focus on healing with your family. Call the Law Office of Joanne Kleiner at (215) 886-1266 to schedule a consultation today.