Are Adult Children Affected By Divorce?

The end of a marriage is never easy, especially if the couple has children together.  Many couples will try to stay together and make the marriage work until the children are grown and out of the home, hoping that will provide the children with additional stability.  However, even when the children are adults with families of their own, they will still be affected by their parents’ divorce.  The divorce rate for those over fifty is climbing, so this is an issue that many adults are now having to face.

One frequent problem in these cases is that the divorcing couple may have come to see their children as friends and even confidants.  As a result, one or both parents may want to discuss the details of the divorce with the adult children, who likely do not want to listen to their parents discuss who was at fault for the end of the relationship.  Adult children will likely find these types of conversations horribly emotionally difficult, and it could irreparably damage the relationship between the adult child and the parent who needs to vent.

Another problem can be how the adult children will be financially impacted.  Although college students are legally adults, it is very common for them to continue to rely on their parents for financial support while they are enrolled in college.  New Jersey courts have held that if parents are financially able to contribute to their child’s college education, they should do so.  The court may end up ordering the parents to continue to pay the cost of higher education. However, as divorce is financially difficult, it is also possible that after the divorce, the parties will no longer have the resources to continue to pay for the child’s college expenses.

Adult children can also be impacted by their parents’ divorce where there is a family business with which the adult children are involved.  IF the family business is marital property, both spouses will be awarded their equitable share of the value of the business.  In some cases, this could mean the business would have to be sold to make sure both spouses get their portion of the asset.  Depending on how the business is structured, adult children could find that after pouring time and resources into the family business, they have no control over its future.

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