Photo: By stevepb
Your parents splitting up is usually a huge moment in your life. Whether you still live at home or you're already an independent adult, it can rock your world. In some cases, you might have seen it coming, while other times it's a complete surprise. But even if you suspected something, it can still be hard to process it when it actually happens. Your parents' separation or divorce doesn't just affect them but you, and any siblings you have too. It can be a confusing and upsetting time and it feels completely out of your control much of the time.
It can help to understand a bit about what will happen and how you can handle it.
The Divorce Process
When your parents decide to get divorced, they might first separate. This usually means living separately, or at least ending their romantic relationship, while remaining legally married. This is sometimes required before a couple can get divorced. Although marriage is a quick process, divorce is often a much longer and messier one. This is because your parents have mixed up their finances and property. Some couples will come to a divorce agreement on their own. However, they may choose to use a divorce mediator, who helps them to work out a fair arrangement. In some cases, their divorce might go to court if they aren't able to come to agreement without it.
Another big issue during a divorce is child custody. If you aren't still a minor, you might have siblings who are. Child custody can be a very complicated thing to work out. Some parents come up with parenting agreements on their own or with the help of a mediator. Others need to sort it out in court, where a judge will decide what is best for any children. If you're still a minor, you will usually get to voice your opinion as a teenager. However, you won't necessarily get the final say. Even if you don't want to see one of your parents, the judge could decide that it's what's best for you.
Photo: By The Blue Diamond Gallery
Living a Double Life
When your parents split, it can feel like you have to start living two lives, even if you no longer live at home. Who should you go to for the holidays? Can you invite your dad to an event where your mom will be bringing her new partner? If you're under 18, you might be splitting your time between two houses. These issues can all be very stressful. However, it's important to remember that many other people deal with the same thing. You can talk to others about how they handle similar issues, as well as speaking to a professional counselor if you want to.
The Effect of Divorce on Your Own Relationships
Your parents divorcing can sometimes have an impact on your relationships. It might make it difficult for you to trust partners or you might be scared that a divorce is in your future. It can help to speak to someone about these feelings so that you can process them in a healthy way.
It's not easy to handle your parents' divorce, but it can be easier if you know what's happening. Try to make sure they don't keep you in the dark too much.