Suddenly, things parents formerly promised to pay for—college, weddings, a down payment on a first home—might no longer be possible.
Furthermore, if savings accounts are drained to finance the divorce or if parents remarry into new families, then the adult child’s inheritance might also be jeopardized.
“You don’t want to be thrust into the role of being a pseudo-parent to your parent.” This role reversal usually includes being spoken to as a friend rather than child, with one or both parents bad-mouthing the other, sharing details about their sex life or the other’s infidelity, and seeking emotional support and advice.
Adult children tolerate these difficult conversations out of a perceived obligation to their parent, despite the emotionally toxic toll it might take on them.
“A lot of parents who are in my office seeking a later-in-life divorce haven’t really done a lot of thinking about how it’s going to impact their kids,” says Janice Green, a family law attorney based in Austin and author of “Divorce After 50.” “But adult kids have longer-established family rituals and home memories than the younger ones, so in some sense the divorce can cause more of an impact.” This includes the intangible impacts of no longer sharing family holidays, for example, or of having to meet mom or dad’s new significant other.
Moreover, when life events like graduations or weddings come up, focus can shift away from celebrating those landmarks and instead to the awkward logistics of keeping warring parents apart.
Instead of sharing and seeking help, they keep those thoughts inside, causing the problem to fester.
To make matters worse, friends and spouses are oftentimes less than supportive during the recovery and adjustment period.
Adult children also feel the economic strain of grey divorces.
Legal fees can run a gamut, from about ,000 per side to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Unlike young children who are shielded from the divorce, adult kids are oftentimes ill advisedly treated like mom or dad’s confidant, therapist and war ally.
But no matter what your age, “you want your parents to be that rock for you,” Gaspard says.