Families Change Teen Guide to Separation & Divorce

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When parents split up, they have to make a lot of decisions.
First, they have to decide on custody and visiting rights, in other words, who their kids will live with and how that will work.


  • If the kids live with one parent, when will they get to see the other parent? How often? And for how long?
  • If the kids live with both parents, will they stay with one parent during the week and the other during the weekend? Or will they spend one week with one parent and one week with the other?

Then parents have to decide how much money one parent has to give the other to help pay for things their kids need. This is called child support.

Parents also have to decide how they will divide their property (the things they own together). For example:

  • If they own a house, will they keep it or sell it? If they don’t sell it, who gets to keep it?
  • How will things like the furniture, cars, TV, computer, and pictures be divided?
  • How will they divide their money and any debts they might have?

Each parent may have a lawyer. The lawyer's job is to help them understand the law on their parents break-up, their separation or divorce, and to help them do what they think is best for their kids.

If parents can't agree on the things they need to decide, they have a couple of options. They can go to a mediator, and use mediation to reach an agreement. Or they might have to go to court and have a judge make the decisions for them.

Q & R

Who decides who I will live with? Do I get a say?

Ideally, your parents will make the decisions together about who you’ll live with and how that will work.

If they can't decide themselves, they might go to a mediator for help in reaching an agreement. Or they might have to go to court and have a judge make the decisions for them.

Whether your parents make the decisions about custody and visiting rights themselves, or with the help of a mediator or a judge, your opinion should be taken into account.

My parents never married. Do they have to go through the same process that married parents do when they split up?

Common-law parents — parents who chose to live together without getting married — don't get a divorce because there is no marriage to end. But they do need to decide what will happen to their children and how they’ll divide their property.

What is the difference between legal separation and divorce?

When two people who are married decide to split up, they need to get a divorce to legally end their marriage.

They can also decide to get a legal separation and divide up their property. They have to go to court for this, but this does not end the marriage. Divorce is the only way to end a marriage. To learn more about “legal separation” visit Éducaloi’s website.