How Divorce Affects Adult Children

adult woman sad with tissue talking to older mother

When people think of couples getting divorced, they often think of couples in their 30s or 40s who share young children. They often think of the custody and support arrangements that must be made in those cases. However, divorce rates for older Americans have been steadily increasing year over year. Many of these couples share adult children, some of whom already have children of their own. While these children are grown up, their parents’ divorce can still affect them in unique ways.


Adult children may experience even more shock after their parents get a divorce because they witnessed their marriage last for decades. They may re-think old memories and look for any indications of their parents’ marriage weakening over time.

Contemplating Their Own Relationships

The shock of their parents’ long-lasting marriage ending can lead an adult child to contemplate their own romantic relationships. They may lose faith in a long-lasting marriage, or begin to panic that their marriage will end in the same way. While there is clearly no direct connection between their parents’ divorce and their own marital journey, they may not be thinking rationally about this themselves.

How to Support Your Adult Children

Your adult children may not want to verbalize to you that they are struggling after this major life change. After all, they may feel that since they are adults, they shouldn’t care as much. However, it’s important to support your adult children through this time when they will undoubtedly be feeling complex emotions.

Ask them how they feel. They may not be comfortable starting the conversation. Make an effort to open communication and check in with them about their feelings.

Don’t rely on them for emotional support. This is a complex one, many parents struggle with this boundary in all types of parent-child relationships. While you may want to confide in your children about your divorce, we recommend going to someone more neutral or separated from the situation. It may make your adult children uncomfortable to begin hearing the negatives about your marriage/their other parent, and could potentially lead to strained relationships.

It’s estimated that on average, it takes a family five to 10 years to fully heal from divorce. Know that just because your children are now adults, it doesn’t mean they will have an easy time adjusting to the new family dynamic.

Rancho Cucamonga Divorce Attorneys

If you and your spouse have decided to divorce after a long-term marriage, our team at Newman & Allen is here to assist you. Give us a call at (909) 328-6101 to set up a consultation where we can answer all of your questions and let you know what to expect throughout the divorce process.