Families Change Teen Guide to Separation & Divorce

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There are lots of people around you who can help you cope with your parents splitting up. Sometimes, just talking to a friend can help a lot, especially if his or her parents have also split up.

You can also talk to an adult you trust, like:

  • A relative (an aunt or uncle, or your grandmother or grandfather)
  • Your teacher
  • Your school counsellor
  • Someone at your place of worship
  • Your family doctor.

These people can help by:

  • Just listening
  • Helping you to put things in perspective
  • Suggesting things you can do to make things better
  • Connecting you with other people who can help.

Q & A

Q:
I'm feeling really upset and confused about my parents splitting up. Is this normal?
A:

It's natural — and entirely normal — to experience some intense emotions. You will feel better over time. There are lots of ways to help yourself feel better, and people who can help you if you need it.

Q:
What is the difference between separation and divorce?
A:

When two people have been living together and they decide not to live together anymore, they are separated. However, when married people separate, their marriage has not yet ended. They have to get a divorce to legally end a marriage. Common-law couples don't have to get a divorce, because there is no marriage to end.

Q:
My parents are splitting up. Why?
A:

There are many reasons why parents decide to split up. And with each couple, there might be one main reason, or a whole pile of reasons.

Parents usually try very hard to solve their problems before they take action. If you're not sure what your parents' reasons are for splitting up, you can always ask.

Q:
I'm feeling guilty. Was there something I did to cause it?
A:

You are not the reason for your parents splitting up. Parents split up because of problems in their relationship.

It's not your fault!

Q:
Will I be able to spend time with both parents?
A:

In the vast majority of cases, children get to spend time with both parents. How much time you spend with each parent, and exactly how that will work, depends on your custody and access arrangements.