The impact of a divorce on Adult children is often overlooked.
After all they are grown and considered adults by the courts. However, that does not mean that a divorce does not have an impact on the adult children at any age. Adult children can be divided into two categories. There are adult children who have established lives and families of their own and adult children who have not truly launched yet. Either way, these grown children of the marriage are affected by their parents’ divorce.
Adult Children Who are Still Depending on their Parents
Adult children who have not fully launched include those who are still in college, post-secondary school, or trade school. This group still needs the financial and emotional support of their parents. That support can be torn apart if the parents only focused on themselves.
It is not unusual for one parent to be more concerned than the other about how these adult children will support themselves without parental support while still in school. They have not fully launched into full-time jobs. How can the couple divide everything in the divorce and still find the resources to get these children through school without an enormous amount of debt? There is a fine balance, and it may take some creativity from the parents to meet the financial and emotional needs of their children still in school.
The last thing most parents would want is for their children to not fully launch, to end up living back with one of them, and to continue to be a financial strain. I have seen situations where the child drops out of school for various reasons and end up doing nothing every day except play video games, sleep late, and hang out with friends. They do not do anything to become a fully supportive and productive adult.
Creatively meeting the financial needs and the life goals of these adult children is important. In a Collaborative Divorce, the focus is on helping these children launch into productive adults. A Collaborative Divorce team has a financial neutral to help creating budgets. A Collaborative Divorce helps you get that ‘aha’ moment where you see it is possible for everybody to be financially supported as we get the children launched.
Adult Children Who Have Families and Lives of Their Own
No adult child wants to think of their parents getting divorced. The home and family dynamics they knew for decades is being torn apart. Life will never be the same. One of the challenges will be that these adult children are going to have to juggle which house their families go to when celebrating various holidays. New traditions may be brought in which cause new conflicts such as is dad going to be upset because the adult children spend Mother’s Day with their mom, instead of supporting his new wife?
One of the other issues can be if the grown children are asked to choose sides. Forcing people to take sides is incredibly damaging to adult children and to their entire family. It could affect them, not just for decades, but for generations to come. In a Collaborative Divorce, the mental health professional can help the parents and adult children to work through these potential new conflicts and begin healing without feeling a divided loyalty over one parent than the other.
The Court System does not address any of these issues in a divorce case. The advantage of the Collaborative Divorce process is that it can address these issues whether relational or financial.