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.

This is called parental rights and responsibilities and parent child contact. Sometimes this is called “custody and visitation.

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.

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 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 because lawyers can be expensive.

If your parents can’t agree on these things, they might have to get extra help.

They might go to a mediatorA person who does mediation, and helps people agree about things to get help making an agreement, or a judge might make decisions for them.

Sometimes, another person, called a Guardian ad Litem (or G.A.L.), may come and talk to you in order to help your parents make decisions about what’s best for you.