How Are Adult Children Impacted by Divorce?

How Are Adult Children Impacted by Divorce?

Sometimes, married couples wait until their kids are adults to get divorced. Although this sentiment can seem straightforward, this route can take a difficult-to-recognize toll on adult children, which sometimes manifests much later. You have a right to separate from your spouse even if you share children, but if you are thinking about divorce, it is still important to consider how it will affect them. It is crucial for parents to understand how adult children are impacted by divorce.

Thinking About the Children

There are many opinions online that argue there are benefits to waiting until your children are adults to get divorced. The assumption is that what children do not see will not hurt them. If you wait until they are living on their own, your divorce may not impact them as much.

A possible issue is that children do not stop paying attention or needing support once they turn 18. Sometimes, an adult child can get caught in the middle of divorcing parents because the parents believe the child is ready to become a confidant. This new treatment can place an unwarranted burden on adult children, especially if the parents are speaking to their children about the grievances they have with their spouse.

During divorce, parents often are so overwhelmed with their own emotions and pain that they forget to check on their children. Additionally, the legal system can exacerbate this issue. The court’s involvement of adult children in the divorce process convinces adult children that they do not matter.

Ultimately, children will be affected regardless of when parents decide to get divorced. This is not to say that you should not get divorced but that you should check on your children regardless of their age if you choose to separate from your spouse.

Effects On Adult Children

Traumatic childhood experiences can stay with people their entire life. While some couples divorce when their children are adults, this does not always mean that children do not see the cracks in the relationship long before the divorce.

Sometimes, a later-in-life divorce may garner relief in children who have just wanted their parents’ happiness for a long time. Occasionally, the result may be the opposite: stress, anger, and resentment. Overall, adult children in these circumstances tend to feel insecure about their future.

Although 18 is the age of adulthood, 18-year-olds may have just begun college or their careers. They may wonder if they need to immediately become financially dependent, drop out of college, or relocate to help a parent. Attempting to answer these new questions strains on a young person’s life in a way that may seem unexpected and unwarranted.

Adult children have no precedent on managing holidays, extended family celebrations, or events where both of their now-divorced parents will not be present. As a result, they may decide not to show up at either parent’s home to prevent the perception that they are choosing a side.

Sometimes, adult children become caretakers of their parents who cannot work or will not work after the divorce. With the parent dealing with a loss of support their spouse previously supplied, the child may step into a role they may not be ready for.

Possible Psychological Effects on Adult Children

The immediate impacts of divorce on adult children may be easy to spot: stress, anxiety, anger, or apathy when around one or both parents. They may dodge questions about their personal life to distance themselves from emotionally connecting with either parent or even attempt to overly support their parents in a way that comes off as demeaning.

Despite these impacts being easy to point out, longer consequences can be more challenging to see. They often manifest in worries and insecurities such as:

  • Romantic relationship anxieties: Adult children who see their parents’ marriage dissolve while understanding the consequences of their actions may seek to overcompensate and reassess their views on romantic relationships, including whether they want to participate.
  • Concerns about marriage or starting a family: Unable to properly cope with the loss of treasured family history or a relationship they may have idolized, adult children may obsess over thoughts about their own family’s future.
  • Financial concerns: Possibly having witnessed their parents’ finances dwindle from a messy divorce, adult children may find it hard to plan for their future correctly.
  • Role reversal: Some adult children fear they will need to forever exist as emotional or financial support for their parents during and after the divorce process. This role reversal can lead to resentment against whomever the child believes is more responsible for the divorce.

Helping Adult Children During the Divorce

This may sound simple, but children remain their parents’ children regardless of age. A divorce will not affect a three-year-old the way it might affect an 18- or 30-year-old, but all children are affected. The primary thing to keep in mind when seeking a divorce is to listen to how your children are feeling. Despite how well you treated your children before, adult or not, they will need your support during your divorce.

Parents may be grieving their relationship and the life they once had, but children will do the same. There are aspects of their lives that may never return to the pre-divorce normal. Although they may not blame you for it, the divorce decision will likely change their lives forever. Though this change may be for the better, change can still be difficult.

What Is a Gray Divorce?

When a couple over the age of 50 divorces, it is termed a “gray divorce.” The choice to divorce at this age can be especially difficult. Though they are becoming increasingly more common, these dissolutions of once long-lasting marriages can have a profound emotional impact on everyone involved.


Q: How Does Divorce Affect Your Adult Children?

A: Divorce affects your adult children emotionally, mentally, and psychologically. They may feel they have lost their support system when they need it most. This event may cause them to act much differently than they had before the decision to divorce. It is essential to communicate openly with your child while remembering that no matter their age, they are still your child and need you.

Q: At What Age Are Children Most Affected by Divorce?

A: There is no specific age at which children are most affected by divorce. Divorce is difficult for everyone involved, even if it will ultimately result in healthier and happier parents. Although some people believe that divorce affects younger children more, this is not always the case. Divorce can also have a significant effect on adult children.

Q: How Do I Communicate With Adult Children After My Divorce?

A: The primary way to communicate with adult children after your divorce is to be open. Being open, in this case, does not mean burdening them with all the negative details about your relationship, as this can cause unintended consequences for them and yourself. Open communication means being honest with them about what matters and answering questions if they have any.

Additionally, proactive communication about plans for family gatherings or events that may become difficult for them to navigate will show them that you understand things are hard for them.

Q: How Can I Help My Adult Child Through Divorce?

A: One primary way to help adult children through your divorce is to ensure they are not caught between you and your ex-spouse. Believing they do not deserve the same support and care you would give a younger child is a mistake and could result in resentment from your children.

Your Family Attorney in Pasadena

Thinking through every aspect of your divorce can be tiring when all you desire is relief. At Khalaf Law Group, we understand how difficult it is to decide to end a long-lasting marriage. Contact us today to learn how our firm can assist you in all parts of your divorce and life after.

About Ted Khalaf

As you maneuver the difficult process of divorce and custody, it is essential that you are supported by a team of legal experts well versed in California specific Divorce and Family Law. For well over a decade, Khalaf Law Group have been serving clients across Southern California in all areas of Divorce and Family Law. With an exceptional track record of courtroom successes, Khalaf Law Group take great pride in providing their valued clients with the knowledge and information they require to maintain peace of mind and a positive outcome in their case.

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