Families Change Teen Guide to Separation & Divorce

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Sometimes parents who are splitting up use a process called mediation to help them reach an agreement on the various decisions they have to make. The process is led by a mediator, who has been trained to act as a neutral third party in order to help people find solutions to their conflicts.

Unlike a judge, a mediator has no decision-making power. If your parents use mediation, they’ll meet a few times with a mediator at his or her office. The mediator will try to help them reach an agreement that meets everyone's needs. If the agreement is fair, the court will approve it. So, they won’t have to argue in court, unless they still can’t reach an agreement.

Q & R

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.

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.