As divorce rates among adults over the age of 50 continues to rise, (known as grey divorce or silver separation), the affect parental breakup has on adult children is starting to be better understood. Children are often in their 20s and typically in relationships themselves, either married or co-habiting. The assumption can often be that parental divorce won’t hurt an adult child. In fact, feelings of anger or guilt can be common among offspring, who feel that their parents only stayed together for the benefit of the children / family unit.
For adult children receiving unwelcome news about parental separation, there are some useful pointers to consider:
• Be supportive, of course, but avoid falling into the trap of fulfilling a role that should otherwise be taken by a professional such as a counsellor or lawyer;
• Establish boundaries or ‘no-go’ areas. If there are things about the divorce that you don’t want to hear about, the benefit of being older is that you can say so, and repeat it over and again as many times as needed;
• Don’t pick sides. There can be pressure, especially where infidelity has played a part.
• Don’t compare a relationship that you might be in with that of your parents. It is statistically true that children of divorced parents are more likely to end up divorced themselves. That said, there are sensible steps that children of separating parents might want to consider for themselves, either now or in the future:
o Pre-nuptial agreement. Entered into by a couple intending to marry some time in the future. The content can vary, but commonly includes provision for division of property and spousal support in the event of relationship breakdown. The advantage being that the prenuptial agreement was drafted and agreed to when the relationship was strong.
o Cohabitation agreements. Drawn up between co-habitees wanting to avoid the cost and time of a dispute should a relationship deteriorate to the point of breakdown.
For more information about pre-marital or relationship agreements contact Sarah Cornes
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