It can be devastating for a young child to experience their parents’ divorce. It upends life for many years. Many still reel from the effects years later and even find it hard to get married themselves because they fear the same fate.
Even when you are grown up and living out of the family home, there is still the possibility that your parents could end their marriage. After all, gray divorces are on the rise. The divorce rate for those over the age of 50 has doubled since 1990.
When your parents tell you they are getting a divorce, this can be quite a shock to you, even if you are married with children of your own. You may be a successful professional with a wonderful life, but that does not mean that you will not feel angry about your parents splitting up after what could be 20, 30, or even more than 40 years of marriage.
It could take some time for you to make some sense out of this trauma. Once you deal with the anger and hurt you will likely feel, you will be tasked with helping take care of your parents as they navigate through the divorce process in their advanced age.
Challenges You Will Face
A divorce is different when you are younger. When you divorce in your 20s, 30s, and 40s, you are responsible for your minor children. Both parents will ideally work together to co-parent and help take care of their kids the best they can. While there will likely be financial issues involved as one household becomes two, both parties have time to recover through working and saving up for retirement.
This is different when the couple is in their 50s, 60s, and beyond. As people get older, they tend to experience new challenges, such as health issues. For example, your mom may have been caring for your disabled dad, who has not been able to walk for the past few years. Who will take care of him now that your mom is moving out? Will that burden be on you? Will you have to hire a caregiver?
There is also the mental health of your parents to consider. They likely have not been single for decades. How will they adjust to single life? They will likely be mourning the death of their marriage. This will be a huge adjustment to them. The elderly face a higher risk of depression and anxiety. How will they cope?
These mental ailments can also lead to physical ones. Excessive worry can lead to high blood pressure. They may suffer insomnia as they lie awake at night thinking about their decision to divorce. They may experience problems with food. Some overeat, while others stop eating altogether, leading to significant weight loss or gain.
Dealing with these problems can be especially challenging if the divorce caused one or both parents to lose health insurance. The burden will likely be on you to ensure your parents are happy and healthy as they navigate divorce. It will be your responsibility to make sure they get the health care they need. Explore insurance options for older and low-income people, such as Medicare and Medicaid. You may discover that your parents have more options than you realize.
Besides the health of your parents, you will also need to consider their finances. Assets get split in a divorce, so while your parents may have been financially well-off while they were married, this may no longer be the case. Just like a divorce at any age, you will need to consider who is keeping the family home. Is there still a mortgage on it? Will one parent buy out the other? Will the house be sold, with the profits split? Where will your parents live? Will one be living with you?
What about income? Did both parents work or was it a single-income family? These are things to think about because you will need to consider how the non-working parent will earn income now. While they will likely get some assets, they may be forced to go back to work. This can be a challenge for someone in their 60s and beyond, as age discrimination is real. Plus, hiring has slowed down, with many companies laying off employees due to the coronavirus pandemic.
You need to consider the future, as well. How will divorce affect your parents’ retirement plans? Will you have to help out with finances?
This can be a stressful time for all involved. As the adult child of divorcing parents, you will have a lot on your plate as you help your aging parents get through these tough times. You will not only have to take care of them, but yourself, as well. As difficult as the process may be, remember that you are still family, despite the divorce.
Seek Legal Help
As an adult child, you may end up stuck in the middle of your parents’ divorce. As people get older, divorce gets more complicated for many reasons, and this can be frustrating for you. Your parents may have health or financial issues for which you may feel responsible.
Make sure your parents get the right legal help as they navigate divorce during their retirement years. With more than 30 years of experience handling divorces, Broward County divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler can give you and your family solid advice to get through a gray divorce. Get started today by calling (954) 346-6464 or filling out the online form.