May 23, 2023
Children of the 80s grew up with books about adjusting to your parents’ divorce. Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary and The TV Kid by Betsy Byars feature elementary school-aged protagonists whose parents have recently divorced. It was easy to find movies and TV shows about stepparents, dividing one’s time between two houses, and other aspects of being a child of divorced parents. It is not any easier when your parents get divorced when you are grown up. Likewise, being a divorced parent of minor children is one of life’s great challenges, but even though the law does not require you to co-parent with your ex-spouse once your children have reached adulthood, you must still navigate new and unfamiliar family dynamics. Even though you don’t have to deal with child support and parenting plans, late-in-life divorce brings plenty of stress. A Chicago dissolution of long-term marriage lawyer can help you if you and your husband have decided to divorce now that your children have grown up and moved out of the marital home.
The divorce rates for all age groups have been decreasing, except for people over 50. On the one hand, a gray divorce is less scary than getting a divorce when you are young. When you are older, you know yourself, and you know that being single does not always mean being lonely. You have a professional network, and your marriage is not your whole identity. Furthermore, now that your children are grown up, being a parent is also not your whole identity. From a financial perspective, though, gray divorce after a long marriage is the worst because almost everything you own is marital property.
Even worse is the effect that gray divorce can have on your relationship with your children. The law has safeguards against parental alienation when your children are minors; the court can order your children to spend Christmas with you every odd-numbered year until they turn 18. When they are grown up, you have no legal remedies available to prevent them from spending every holiday with your ex and none with you.
When you break the news to your adult children that you are getting divorced, be honest, but do not overshare. You should be as careful not to badmouth your ex to your children when they are grown up as you would if they were minors, and doing so would cause you to lose parenting time. Putting your children in the middle is a recipe for parental alienation. Listen without judgment if your adult children want to talk to you about your ex; save your most candid conversations for your friends or your therapist.
A Chicago property division attorney can help you get divorced after decades of marriage. Contact Women’s Divorce & Family Law Group in Chicago, Illinois, to discuss your case.