Shelander Law Offices

'Gray divorce' poses challenges for the adult kids in the middle

With the rise of "gray divorce" over the past few decades, more adults than ever are having to face the reality that their parents are no longer together while figuring out how to explain the situation to their own children.

In addition to the emotional challenges of having their parents divorce when they believed their mom and dad would be together until the end, adult children of divorce often face practical challenges as well. Parents who committed to helping their kids with their student loans, a down payment on their first home or college funds for their grandchildren may be dealing with their own financial problems and rethink those commitments.

Even though women initiate the majority of divorces among people over 50, they're generally at a disadvantage financially. Older women still have a more difficult time, as a whole, getting and keeping a job that will support them. Many women of a certain age, no matter how independent they may be, also still rely on their husbands to handle the money. Doing their own financial budgeting and planning can be challenging at this point in their lives.

Older divorcing parents may also rely heavily on their adult children for both emotional and practical support. If their health starts to fail as they age, their children may end up becoming their caregivers. A movie that addressed the gray divorce phenomenon before it was one and its impact on the "kids" caught in the middle is 1986's Nothing in Common, starring Tom Hanks.

While older divorcing parents don't have to worry about their adult children's well-being the same way they would if they were much younger, it's essential to understand that your divorce is still going to affect them. You may be tempted to lean on them for emotional support and share the details of your unhappy marriage with them. However, it's healthier to save those for your friends or a good therapist.

Your Texas family law attorney can provide recommendations for therapists, financial and tax advisers and other professionals who can help you as you plan for your new, independent future. This can help you avoid becoming a burden on your kids and continue being the parent and grandparent they need.

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