Families Change
Kids Guide to Separation & Divorce

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Jeremy: When parents separate or divorce, they have to make a lot of decisions.

They have to decide who you will live with and how that will work.

If you live with one parent, when will you get to see the other parent? How often? And for how long? There are lots of different ways to arrange how you will spend time with your parent.

If you live with both parents, will you stay with one parent during the week and the other during the weekend? Or will you spend one week with one parent and one week with the other? There are lots of different ways to live with both parents.

Your parents also have to decide things like who will make decisions about your schooling, if and where you will go to church, what doctor you will see. Your parents may continue making these decisions together. Or they may divide up these decisions. It is possible, though unlikely, that the court will let one parent make all of the decisions. This can happen if the judge thinks that your other parent cannot make good decisions for you.

Your parents have to decide how much money one parent has to give the other to help pay for the things you need. This is called child supportMoney that one parent gives the other parent to help pay for the things that kids need.

Your parents need to decide how they will divide all the things they own together. For example:

  • If they own a house, who will keep living in it?
  • Who will keep the furniture, cars, TV, computer, pictures, dishes, and other things?
  • How will they divide their money, and any bills that need to be paid?

When parents stop living together, each parent may have a lawyerA person who knows a lot about the law. Lawyers know about the law. Their job is to help the parent understand the laws about separation and divorce, and to help the parent do what he or she thinks is best for you.

It is also common for parents to figure out these issues on their own – with the help of the court - because lawyers can be expensive.

People who work for the court can try to help them. These people are called: Magistrates, Mediators, and Judges. Each has different roles to play in helping your parents sort things out.

LawyersA person who knows a lot about the law and people who work for the court help with these decisions in the same way a doctor helps you make decisions about how to get better when you are sick or like a mechanic helps you fix your car when it’s broken.