The Impact of Grey Divorce on Adult Children

Are you considering getting a “grey divorce” but you are not sure what it will do to your adult children? How will they feel about you if you are the main driver in your divorce? Will they blame you for the changes in the family dynamics and how it will change your relationship with your adult children and their grandchildren perhaps? 

Adult children are being increasingly impacted by their parents’ divorces. Divorce rates for those over age 50 are increasing and are expected to continue to rise. 

Divorces for these older couples have become known as “grey divorces.” These divorces can involve complex asset portfolios for high net worth individuals and can involve adult children having loyalties to one parent over another. 

Even if the children are no longer living at home or being dependent on their parents, adult children can still be profoundly affected by their parents’ divorce. “For younger children, they see that life in the home is changing. But for adults, they view it as a disintegration of their family’s history,” Bruce Fredenburg, a longtime family and couple therapist based in Laguna Hills, California says.

The Effect of the Pandemic on Divorces

Divorces rates have steadily risen during the course of the Covid-19 Pandemic. This is true not only in the United States but all over the world. In both China and Italy, there have been record numbers of divorces filed. In Italy, divorce rates were up over 30% after the first ten weeks of the lockdown. Wuhan has seen divorce rates double. Couples have been forced to spend most (or all) of their time together, without the break of work, visiting friends, hobbies and activities outside of the house, etc. 

All this time together, combined with economic stressors, health related stressors, and large scale loss have contributed to a strain on all relationships. 

Researchers determined that an intimate relationship needs a five to one ratio of positive to negative interactions — for every negative exchange, there needs to be five positive ones for balance. Stress and anxiety rates have risen for everyone over the course of the pandemic — the immense pressures have affected every facet of life and marriage is certainly no exception. 

Your Children’s Reaction to Your Divorce

How might adult children react differently to their parents’ divorce than younger children? 

It depends on the child and the circumstances. If infidelity is the reason for the marriage ending, this could trigger feelings of resentment towards a parent, especially if the child has experienced infidelity in their personal relationships. Adult children may also feel ashamed or confused at emotions that arise when they hear the news. They may want to be tough and act as though it doesn’t affect them because they are independent now. However, it is natural to experience a multitude of emotions.

Young children may receive more emotional support during a divorce – such as books, therapy, parents going to support groups to help their children cope with a challenging time. Emotional support makes all the difference in processing the impact of the divorce and adults should not hesitate to seek professional help. 

There is no way to predict how your adult children will take the divorce and oftentimes it depends on their relationship with you as a parent. If they are more grounded and empathetic they will tend to be supportive of the decision. If they are less independent and reliant on you for support, they might have a harder time adjusting. Divorce can impact every family member and adult children are no exception.

If you are considering a divorce and if you are a high-net-worth individual we can help you untangle the complexities that are present in a long term marriage and high-net-worth divorce. We can also refer you to supportive professionals who can help you and your adult children move through this new stage of your life.  Contact Mansur Law Group today at (978) 341-5040.