The mere mention of the word ‘divorce’ likely triggers an emotional response for many people, although the depth of the reaction depends on who you ask and how personally the divorce has impacted their lives. Typically, when we think of a divorcing couple there are young children that are impacted by the separation of their parents. Over the last twenty years the number of ‘gray divorces’ has doubled.
A gray divorce refers to a couple over the age of 50 where the children are no longer at home. An often-overlooked group are adult children, who while they are no longer living with their parents, are still affected by the divorce.
The Unique Position of an Adult Child and Their Parents’ Divorce
Most children witnessing their parents’ divorce instinctively feel a need to be helpful and supportive during this difficult time. And while adult children have experienced the trials and tribulations of life – which may be theoretically beneficial – it is important to recognize that even the best of intentions from an adult child may be seriously misunderstood by one or both parents.
Offering support to one parent can unexpectedly shift the balance between the parents and even be used as a defining point where other family members begin to choose sides. No child of a marriage should ever be asked to choose sides.
Adult children sometimes hope that they can help their parents to get back together. This can be a tricky path to walk that may result in the adult child inadvertently taking sides. Adult children of a marriage should honor each parent’s wishes from a neutral position without judgment. An adult child offering support to their parents going through a divorce may find it helpful to think of their role as a fiduciary – a legal principle in which the fiduciary/adult child has a legal obligation to put their parents’ interests ahead of their own.
If you are in need of assistance in your divorce, contact the Kim Mediation and Law Center today.