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Tips for handling "gray divorce" with your adult children

It is not always young, minor children whose parents get divorced. In fact, with "gray divorce" increasing, a lot of adult children are facing the prospect of their parents splitting up.

Divorcing at an older age comes with a slightly different set of issues than it does when you divorce at a younger age, and navigating it with children is a different experience as well but no less important. In fact, many of the same principles apply, no matter the age of your children.

Keep it civil if possible

An important aspect of divorce is to keep the process civil if possible. That means no talking bad about your ex to your children. An adult child, just like a younger child, likely does not want to hear in excruciating detail about the problems that led to divorce, nor does the child want to be put in the position of taking sides or appearing to.

That said, adult children may be able to handle and appreciate the nuances of divorce better than younger children. Still, you do not need to tell them everything nor do they want to know everything. Agree with your ex on what you will tell the children, and if feasible, tell them together.

Respect their independence

With younger children, parents often draw up a parenting plan that governs where the children stay and where they go for holidays. All that flies out the window with older children. In fact, your adult children are about to begin a stage in their lives that they may have little experience with. For the first time, they may have to choose between spending a holiday with you or with their other parent. Respect their right to do so. If you and your ex live in the same town, it may be more comfortable for your children to stay at a hotel than at one of your houses. Encourage them to do what they want instead of what you think they may feel "expected" to do.

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Mathis, Bates & Klinghard PLLC
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Clarksville, TN 37040

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