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A key divorce consideration for parents of adult children

When parents whose children are all adults get divorced, child support proceedings will generally not arise. This is because, with a few exceptions (including an exception for significant disabilities), child support is typically only awarded in relation to minors here in Virginia.

However, this does not mean that costs related to adult children are irrelevant issues in divorces.

Just because his or her child is now an adult doesn’t mean a parent no longer has major expenses related to that child. A parent may provide a range of financial support, including help with college and day-to-day costs.

In fact, a Merrill Lynch/Age Wave survey suggests that a parent’s child-related costs may be higher than ever when his or her children are adults. In the survey, parents were polled on what phase of raising children is the most expensive. Here is how the answers broke down:

  • The adult phase - 45 percent of respondents
  • The elementary/high school phase - 44 percent of respondents
  • The infant/toddler phase - 11 percent of respondents

So, this suggests that having high costs related to adult children is a very common experience for parents. The survey found the average level of such expenses to be $6,600 a year.

When getting divorced, it is important for a person to carefully consider his or her entire financial situation when deciding what it would be in his or her best interests to push for in a property division settlement or proceeding. This includes what expenses one has.

As the survey indicates, major child-related costs are a reality for many parents of adult children. So, when in a divorce, such parents should make sure to take such expenses into account when formulating a strategy for property division and other divorce financial issues. A well-tailored strategy can be key in protecting one’s long-term interests and goals (including goals related to supporting adult children). Experienced divorce lawyers can help parents with adult children with developing a divorce approach consistent with their needs and unique circumstances.

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