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A parent's role in a child's divorce

Americans are living longer than they have in the past, due in large part to medical advances and better information about personal care and safety. It is not uncommon for Stockton residents to know individuals who have been married for thirty, forty, or even fifty years; as individuals live longer, marriages endure for longer periods of time, too. However, as adults see their birthdays reach into their seventies, eighties, and nineties, they witness more of the events that occur in the lives of their relatives.

This can include the divorce of their children. While for many parents the urge to swoop in and fix a child's problems never really goes away, there are important boundaries that the parents of adult children should respect when those offspring choose to end their marriage.

Particularly, parents should allow their children to follow legal paths they feel are most effective for bringing about their divorce. This can include selecting their own attorneys and managing all communications with them, even if the divorcing parties' parents believe that they may know of better counsel for their kids. The parents of divorcing adults are not parties to the legal proceedings and should not become involved in those processes unless asked to by their kids.

Additionally, some parents may feel that it is helpful to loan their kids money during their divorce. However, as individual and marital assets must be evaluated during property division negotiations, loans made before and during divorce may end up negatively impacting a child's access to financial resources or support.

Despite these restrictions, parents of divorcing children can find many ways to help. They can provide emotional support during the ups and downs of the divorce process and they can respect the emotions of their kids. However, in many cases it is helpful for those parents to allow their kids to make their own divorce-related decisions and to manage their legal matters on their own.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "The do's and don'ts in your grown kid's divorce," Leslie Mann, Feb. 12, 2016

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