You and your soon-to-be-ex spouse worked hard raising your kids and setting them up for success. But at some point during that time your own relationship with each other may have started to fizzle.

Now they are off on their own in college, and you feel ready to officially split with your spouse. Your children are more grown up and you think they are better equipped to handle a divorce. But even adult children may have a hard time dealing with their parent’s relationship ending. How do college-age children handle divorce?

How could your kids react to your divorce?

While you might think getting a divorce when your children are grown up might be easier on them, this is not always the case. There are many different reactions your kids could have and a wide variety of emotions they could experience. Here are a few more common ways divorce affects college-age kids:

  • Surprise – Your kids may be shocked to hear you are getting a divorce, especially after being together throughout their childhood. They could be completely caught off guard.
  • Feeling guilty – College-age children may feel guilty that they either caused their parent’s divorce, or were the cause of them staying together while unhappy.
  • Becoming more cynical – Adult children may be starting to form serious relationships of their own and news of a divorce could spark feelings of cynicism in their own relationships.
  • Losing the feeling of “home” – Hearing about parent’s divorce could affect the way your kids perceive their home, especially if they are away at school. They may begin to worry that they no longer have a place to come back to and are losing a stable “home base.”

These are just a few common feelings and reactions your children could experience. You may want to prepare yourself for these reactions and emotions in order to support your kids. These reactions can be serious and have lasting effects on your kids. You should be prepared to comfort and support them through this time and through these feelings. Make sure they know you will be there for them the same way you were earlier in their lives.

Is there anything special you have to do for divorce with the kids in college?

Going through a divorce with adult children can be slightly different than divorce with young children. Not only will the kids experience it differently, the process itself has some adjustments. Some potential differences are:

  • You may not have to figure out a parenting plan, since your children are legal adults, but you might still want to discuss what will happen when your kids are home for breaks.
  • You may need to figure out how to, and who will, fill out student aid forms, like FAFSA, after you split.
  • You may have to come up with a plan for funding the remainder of your child’s education and other expenses, though formal child support may no longer be applicable.

Each person’s situation is different, but these are some scenarios you may face during your divorce.

There is never a good time to tell your kids you are getting divorced. Having adult children does not make it any easier, just because they are grown up. There will still be complications and difficult situations.

However, there are ways you can ease the transition and make the best out of the circumstances. You and your family are more than capable of getting through this experience.