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Understand the impact of a gray divorce

People don't often discuss the realities of gray divorces, which are divorces that take place between spouses over the age of 50. In many cases, people involved in these divorces are parents, grandparents or even great grandparents. The end of this relationship can impact the entire family, not just their household.

Divorce affects families in different ways. If you're grandparents and your grandchildren see you divorce, it is possible that it will shake them. Your own children will likely still mourn the loss of your family unit, even though they're grown and no longer need the same support as they would as minors.

Why do gray divorces affect families so significantly?

Monetarily, they can be stressful. If one grandparent hadn't worked while the other did, there could be anxiety over expenses or how to make ends meet. There are retirement funds to split and assets to divide. It's a complicated process for the couple involved.

Emotionally, it's hard for anyone to see the people they love go through a difficult time. Children who took strength from their parents' relationship and long-term commitment may begin to second-guess themselves. They may struggle with having to see their mom and dad separately, especially if they bring new people into the family as new girlfriends, boyfriends or spouses.

Grandchildren may fear that their own parents will go through the same situation, divorcing themselves. This can cause turmoil at home, even when there's nothing wrong at all.

What can you do to support your family during a divorce?

During any family member's divorce, it's a good idea to be reassuring to those around you. You should take steps to confirm your marital status with your own spouse. Talk to your children about the situation in an age-appropriate manner if your parents are separating, so that they understand that what grandpa and grandma are doing isn't necessarily something their own parents will go through.

Most of all, it's important to take this time to create stronger family ties. Take time to see your loved ones independently, so that they, and you, feel comfortable with one another. Even if you're an adult child, seeing your parents separate is hard, but it doesn't mean you can't appreciate spending time with them when they're apart.

These are a few things to think about with a gray divorce. Emotional and financial strain is possible with any divorce, but these divorces do pose unique challenges.

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Robert Schembs
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Indianapolis, IN 46204

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