4 Ways an Adult Child Can Be Affected by Divorcing Parents

The effect that a divorce has on children is well-documented, but how it affects adult children is very rarely recognized.

By Kerry Smith
November 07, 2016
effects of divorce on adult children

The truth is that a divorce can still affect children regardless of them being adults, so they do not escape the problems that come with divorce.

How Does Divorce Affect Adult Children?

1. Life Will Become Harder

Adult children have the ability to think about things in a mature way, so they know how divorce will affect them in the years ahead and they understand that things will be different. Celebrations and life events will now be celebrated separately instead of together, and that can be difficult when trying to weave their way through their own busy lives. Events such as weddings or the arrival of grandchildren will be challenging, and this can prove to be exceptionally difficult if the parents did not divorce in an amicable way. In fact, the childhood of adult children can play a part because their memories will be full of their parents together, a memory that will never be a reality again.

2. Taking Sides

If the divorce becomes difficult and complicated and the blame is passed between each parent, it can often be the case where an adult child will take sides. They may blame one parent and defend the other, and this need to take sides can create a divide between brothers and sisters. For families that are closely knit, this can cause a huge strain in many different ways.

3. Adult Children Become Relied Upon

When divorce occurs, adult children can often be required to offer emotion support, and this is where boundaries can become blurred. When parents rely on their adult children to support them in this way, this is when children can become unhappy and feel like they are stuck in the middle; essentially, they still want to feel like they are the child and not a close friend. This is the complete opposite of a divorce situation where children are involved. Because the parents tend to protect them, however, adult children can sometimes feel forced to help and support their parents.

4. Adult Children Become a Statistic

Adult children with divorced parents have now become part of a growing group. Statistics prove that many parents are deciding to divorce once their children have grown up and left home. In fact, the over 50s are deciding to divorce more than any other age group. Naturally, no child wants their parents to divorce, even if it is clear that it is the only option. Children, at a young age, believe that their parents and their family are indestructible; yet, as older children, they now have to see themselves as a child who was once part of a solid family but now has divorced parents.

Adult children deal with divorce in a more mature way and can often understand the reasons why, even when it impacts their life and family. They are able to remove themselves from the situation and understand why it has happened, unlike younger children who feel that they are part of it.

For adult children, divorced parents brings a whole new host of demands and problems that can put a strain on their own lives.


Kerry Smith, UK Family LawyerKerry Smith is the Head of Family Law at K J Smith Solicitors, a specialist family law firm that deals with a wide range of issues, including divorce, domestic violence, civil partnerships, and prenuptial agreements. Kerry has over 15 years' experience in family law and is recommended by the Legal 500 guide to law firms in the UK.

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