Divorce and separation
Why are my parents getting separated or divorced?
- Your parents have probably tried to make things work but may have found it just too difficult to get along together
- Sometimes, one parent is unhappy in the relationship, or both your parents may reach a point where they no longer love each other
- Parents can grow apart and find that they want different things for themselves now than they did when they were first together
- You may not understand all of the reasons your parents are separating or getting divorced, but the most important thing for you to remember is that it is not your fault
What will happen to me?
- If your parents decide to separate or divorce, they probably won't live together anymore. They will need to decide how much time you'll spend with each one of them and where you'll live
- Sometimes, parents can't agree on a solution. They may visit a mediator to help them with this decision, but if they can't reach an agreement, then the matter will be decided in court. A court welfare officer may come to talk to you to hear your views. It is important to be honest about how you feel and what you want
- The court might issue a residence order that decides who you'll live with or how your time will be shared with both parents. If the court decides that you'll live mostly with one parent, then it may issue a contact order, which deals with visits, phone calls and having contact with the other parent
- Sometimes, the court decides which parent is responsible for your education or health, or it may require permission before a parent can take you abroad on holiday. The court's first responsibility is to you, and court officials will always try to decide what is the best for your well-being
If your parents are getting separated or divorced, it is normal to have a lot of strong feelings, all at the same time.
- You may feel sad about losing the people and home you love. You might feel angry about the changes that are being made in your family, especially if your parents aren't listening to you or telling you what's going on
- You might feel confused about the way your parents are acting and afraid of what will happen to you once they split up
- If you feel guilty, remember that it is not your fault. Nothing you do can make your parents break up or stay together. It's their relationship and their choice
- You may be embarrassed to bring your friends around or to talk about what is happening. But you might be surprised to know that one in four young people like you are going through the same thing. Talk to your friends so that they understand how difficult this is for you and tell them that you need their support
- Some young people feel relieved by separation and divorce because it means that they won't have to cope with their parents arguing, fighting or ignoring each other at home
All of these feelings are OK. The most important thing is how you deal with them. Don't try to hold them in and keep them to yourself. Getting your feelings out and sharing them with people you trust can make them less painful.
How can I get through this?
- When parents are going through a separation or divorce, they may feel confused and stressed out, and sometimes they forget to check out how you are coping with the changes. Tell them what you want and how you are feeling
- Your parents need to know how their divorce or separation is affecting you. If it's impossible to talk to your parents, find someone else you can trust such as a sister or brother, grandparent, friend or teacher
- If you find it hard to talk, then write down or draw a picture of what is bothering you. Don't keep your feelings, thoughts and fears bottled up inside. They won't go away, and you'll end up feeling overwhelmed by them. By getting them out, you'll find that they become a bit easier to live with
- You can also take care of yourself by keeping in touch with your friends, doing activities that you enjoy and giving yourself a treat once in a while. This is a difficult time, but you will get through it.
- If you feel unable to cope you can talk to the people listed under 'Other Sites' and 'Contacts' at the bottom of this page.
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