Janet L. Goehle, Attorney at Law
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Older children and divorce

In Minnesota, it is not uncommon for couples to split and file for divorce once their children reach a certain age. Legal separations are often seen as less damaging to older children. Younger kids are often the focus for many counseling and therapeutic resources, not older children. However, older kids even those who are well into adulthood are still impacted by their mom and dad’s decision to go their separate ways.

Many older children of divorcing parents find themselves questioning their own relationships. For example, they may feel that because their parent’s relationship did not work out then theirs will not. Also, parents tend to bring their children into the situation, often forcing them to choose sides for emotional support. This can lead to ambivalent feelings from their kids because they are still trying to figure out why their parents have decided to split up after so long.

According to The Guardian, divorce to older children is like death. They do not understand everything that is happening because they still believe in absolutes and black and white. To them, there are no gray areas or in-betweens.

There are several reasons why many couples wait until their children are older before initiating divorce. They may be trying to avoid the awkwardness the situation creates with visitation and living arrangements. They may also do so because they believe their kids are more mature, emotionally stable and equipped to understand and deal with the situation. However, what many parents who take this approach fail to realize is their kids have watched their relationship during their formative years. Now they have to struggle with the reality that their parents are not going to be married forever.

Divorce can be tough for children to deal with at any age. Parents who are contemplating divorce should evaluate their situation and consider discussing with a professional how they can reduce the impact of their decision on their kids.

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