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Telling Adult Offspring About Divorce

Posted on in Divorce

"TellingWhile parents often consider the needs of their children during divorce, adult children of divorce are more likely to be overlooked. Parents will not include adult offspring in their divorce settlement unless the adult is still a legal dependent. Parents may also consider adult children more emotionally resilient and in less need of comforting. However, adult children can still feel devastated by their parents’ divorce and emotionally vulnerable. Their parents should reassure them and protect them from the ugly parts of the divorce.

Traumatic Experience

Parents may mistakenly believe that their divorce will not upset their adult children because the children are living on their own and starting their own lives. The divorce can be a shock to the adult children because they may:

  • Not have seen the divorce coming;
  • Rely on family stability for emotional support;
  • Feel awkward about whether to pick sides; and
  • Question the past authenticity of their parents’ relationship.

It is common for an adult's views on relationships to change after his or her parents' divorce. The adult may be more cautious about entering a serious relationship or getting married. A more patient approach to marriage is good, as long as it does not become a fear of commitment.

Limit the Details

Just because adult children can better understand the reasons why their parents’ divorce does not mean that they want to know their parents’ marital problems. Parents can talk to adult children in a mature manner but still protect them. Adult children are not confidants for their parents. They want to respect and maintain a relationship with both parents. Telling them the uncomfortable details of their parents’ divorce pressures them to pick sides.

Breaking the News

Just as with a child, parents with an adult offspring should carefully consider how they will inform him or her of their divorce. The conversation should be in person with both parents present. The parents should:

  • Briefly discuss the reasons for the divorce in general terms;
  • Focus more on how this will affect the adult child;
  • Acknowledge that the news is unsettling, even if the adult child no longer lives with them;
  • Answer the adult child’s questions without getting into specific details about their marital problems;
  • Reassure the adult child that he or she is not responsible for the divorce; and
  • Tell the adult child that each parent will continue to have a relationship with him or her.

Divorce with Adult Children

Even if child support is not needed, divorcing parents should consider their adult children when modifying beneficiaries of estate planning documents. A DuPage County divorce attorney at Calabrese Associates, PC, can help you determine all aspects of your divorce settlement. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-393-3111.


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