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Gray Divorce Concerns | Effects on Adult Children

What Is Gray Divorce?

Gray divorce refers to the dissolution of a marriage between an older couple (those who are aged 50 or older). While many people believe that marriages between older couples do not and will not end, gray divorces account for one of four people getting divorced in the U.S. Examples of gray divorces include:

  • Bill & Melinda Gates
  • Jeff & Mackenzie Bezos
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger & Maria Shriver

How Your Gray Divorce Can Affect Your Adult Kids

A common myth about adult children of divorce is that they are less affected by divorce than younger children. However, that cannot be farther from the truth. Even though adult children often have lives of their own, they may still have to adjust to splitting time with each parent during the holidays and handle difficult emotions brought on by their parents’ separation.

After learning of their parents’ divorce, adult children often struggle with their own relationships and perceptions surrounding marriage and relationships. Because their sense of normalcy has been shaken, adult children may also:

  • Rewrite the past and feel like their happy memories are a lie, especially as it relates to their childhood memories of your relationship
  • Find it difficult to maintain relationships with either or both parents
  • Not understand how to process and handle the wide range of emotions they are feeling
  • Struggle to set up and maintain effective boundaries with either or both parents concerning what they are willing to discuss concerning the divorce and their parent’s current relationship

Your adult children may also be financially affected by your gray divorce. Florida is an equitable distribution state, which means that your marital assets will not be split 50/50. Assets that you wanted to leave to your kids (or other heirs) may be subject to division, including separate property that was commingled. Unless you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement or you created a trust for your children, your children may lose some of their inheritance.

How to Tell Your Adult Children About Your Divorce

When you decide to tell your adult children about your intentions to get divorced, here are some tips for how to navigate breaking the news to them.

  • Don’t focus solely on the negatives. While you may be emotionally charged or angry with your spouse, try not to disparage the other parent, overshare details, or tarnish old family memories.
  • Be sensitive to their feelings. Divorce doesn’t just affect the separating couple; your child will likely be trying to process their own emotions. You should avoid invalidating their feelings and leaning on them for too much support. If you ignore their feelings or overwhelm them with your feelings, they may resent you or feel alienated.
  • Tell them what will change. You should warn them of changes that will impact their sense of normalcy. For instance, do you plan to sell their childhood home? Will holidays still be spent together or split?
  • Don’t force them to choose sides. Forcing your adult child to pick sides or act as a mediator can damage their relationship with you and/or your soon-to-be-ex-spouse. By forcing your child to choose sides, you also risk damaging other familial relationships.

Get Legal Help

If you are getting divorced, our team at Dale L. Bernstein, Chartered Law Office can advise you of your best legal options and help you protect your adult children in your divorce. Once you retain our attorney, he can help you:

  • Develop a personalized legal strategy to protect your assets during the division of property
  • Understand the unique challenges presented in a gray divorce
  • Secure a settlement agreement that reflects your best interest

Contact our team today to schedule an initial consultation by calling (727) 312-1112.

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