Contemplating how to address the role and the effect of a divorce on adult children may, at first, seem unnecessary. However, there are circumstances in which adult children need to be considered during divorce proceedings.
As most adult children are independent of their parents, the effects of divorce on them are often thought to be minimal. For example, in California, when you are 18 years old and have graduated from high school, the court loses jurisdiction. So, in those instances, custody and support issues are not a factor in the divorce. However, there are several situations in which the impact on adult children does require careful consideration.
There are adult children with valid reasons for continuing dependence on their parents. Young men and women with physical or mental disabilities, as well as students who are attending college. For example, tuition for a student of separated parents could be a consideration in the divorce. Another example is In the case of an adult child with special needs. Would state assistance be sufficient for proper care or would additional contributions by the parents need to be negotiated? These types of circumstances can be difficult, particularly if one parent wants support that the other parent is not prepared to give. During negotiations, these issues should be dealt with in the same way that the needs of minor children are addressed.
Adult Children: Not Confidantes
On the flip side, adult children are grown-ups with opinions, sometimes strong opinions, concerning the divorce. There are also those older adult children who become confidantes and start taking the side of one parent over the other. Sometimes there are underlying financial reasons for this, such as to profit from the future distribution of an estate or to gain control over a family business. This is a potentially difficult situation, as it is not ideal for family members to intervene in divorce proceedings. Interference, even when it is well-intentioned, can potentially complicate what is already a delicate situation.
Collaborative Divorce Advantages
The Collaborative Divorce process has many advantages. The needs of dependent adult children can be addressed through Collaborative Divorce in ways that are not possible through the court system. This could include divorce coaches who can help balance the emotional upheaval one might experience during the divorce. It could also include financial neutrals that can help the clients to better understand all of the available options. It can be beneficial when the client can lean on the divorce coach more so than relying on the guidance of a son or a daughter.
Ultimately, the goal is to keep adult children from having to choose sides. Ideally, allowing them to be neutral and to maintain a good relationship with both parents. If relationships are cordial, family events become easier to deal with, especially around the holidays or other important events such as weddings and graduations where the entire family are together.
If you need assistance in mediation or family law, contact Kim Mediation and Law and schedule your consultation.