If your parents have decided to divorce or separate, you’ll probably be worried about what this means for you. Talking about it with other people will help and you’ll also have say when it comes to deciding which parent you’ll live with.

Why are they breaking up?

A couple can break up for a number of reasons and there’s often a combination of complicated issues behind a decision to separate. You may feel sad, angry or shocked when you hear the news.

You may also feel guilty and think that you’ve somehow played a part in the break up. Whatever the reasons behind your parents breaking up, it’s important to remember that it’s not your fault.

If you feel relieved, don’t worry. It may seem like a strange reaction to have to such a serious situation, but if your parents have been arguing or hurting each other, it may be better for everyone if they lived apart from each other.

Living with one parent

You may be worried that you’ll have to choose which of your parents you want to live with. Whether your parents sort out all their issues between them or they’re disagreeing with each other, you should always be asked for your opinion.

During a divorce or separation, your parents may go through a process called mediation to sort out all the arrangements. As a part of this process, you’re allowed to have your say about what you think would be best for you, and whether you’re happy with the decisions that may affect you.

Mediation doesn’t take place in a court room. It’s an informal chat with a welfare or mediation officer who will explain what your parents have decided and ask you how you feel about those decisions. If you disagree with anything, the welfare or mediation officer feed your thoughts back and the decisions may be changed.

Remember that the main consideration when it comes to deciding which parent you live with will be what’s best for you. It won’t be based on your parents’ preferences.

Talk about it

Being involved in a divorce or separation is an upsetting experience for everyone involved. Although it can be difficult, it’s important for you to talk to your parents about how you’re feeling. As well as giving them an idea of how you’re coping, it gives you a chance to have a better understanding of why they’re separating.

If you have friends whose parents are separated or divorced, you may want to talk to them. They may be able to help you through the experience by talking about what happened to them.

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