There are over 46 million adults in the United States over the age of sixty five, and an even larger number over the age of fifty. Amongst that population, a 2013 study found that the divorce rate had in fact doubled in the prior twenty years, and that 1 of every 4 divorces in this country in 2010 was between a couple over fifty.
Often, these “Grey Divorces” involve couples whose children are already grown, or, as we family lawyers call it, emancipated. But just because the “child” is in fact an adult whose time with their parents will not be governed by a Court Order and who can be supported financially in whatever way the parents deem fit does not mean that a child will be unaffected by the divorce.
Researchers, the media, and even Hollywood have taken notice of the phenomenon known as “A.C.O.D.,” which stands for “Adult Children of Divorce.” While many children whose parents divorced in the 80s and 90s are now adults, they’ve had lifetimes (and potentially years of therapy) to adjust to the reality of their parents no longer being a single, married unit. But as the number of “Grey Divorces” rise, there is similarly a growing number of adults who find themselves suddenly dealing with a new reality – one where their parents are no longer married.
While divorce is not reserved for young couples with infant-to-teenage children, much of the research on children of divorce and therapies available for children of divorce are dedicated to understanding and treating minors, not thirty or forty somethings. This can be problematic for an A.C.O.D. who is navigating their own personal relationships and mulling marriage and starting a family just as their parents’ marriage crumbles. It is also problematic for their parents, who may not realize that the issue of their divorce needs to be treated just as sensitively as they would handle it if their children were younger. While parents may feel as though it is “safe” to divorce once their children are grown and their nests are empty, there is still an emotional toll that the divorce takes that can often be ignored or underestimated.
Getting divorced when you’re fifty and older brings with it unique challenges – you and your spouse are closer to retirement and have had hopefully had an opportunity to accumulate more wealth, including real estate and retirement accounts. But even though custody and child support issues may not be on the table, your children may still need to be part of the equation. Talking to any child about divorce can be a complicated, emotional, and dreaded task. But just because your child is an adult does not mean that this event will be something easy for them to get over, or easier for them to deal with than if the divorce had occurred during their more tender years.
If you are considering a “Grey Divorce,” contact Jacobs Berger, LLC, today to schedule a thorough case analysis and to discuss what role your children will play in your divorce and the impact the divorce may have on them. And if you are not quite yet part of the “Grey” demographic, but think that a “Grey Divorce” is in your future, the attorneys of Jacobs Berger, LLC, are prepared to discuss other alternatives and help you plan for the future.