Healthy lives for young people
Relationships

Divorce and separation

Sometimes people who are married or in long-term relationships decide to get divorced (end their marriage) or separate. There are many reasons for divorce and every situation is different. Some couples may grow apart, or there might be issues that cannot be resolved such as cheating or abuse. The process of separation or divorce is different for everyone – sometimes it can take a long time and be very complicated and sometimes the process more straightforward and feels like it is happening very quickly.

The important thing to remember is that it is never your fault if your parents or carers decide to get divorced or separate.

My parents or carers are getting divorced. What do I do?

There are many things you might be feeling if you’ve just found out that your parents or carers are separating or getting divorced. You might be sad, shocked and angry, or if your parents were arguing a lot or had an unhealthy relationship then you might also be feeling relieved. You might feel a combination of all of these emotions, which can be confusing, but is completely normal.

You might find that talking to a friend or another trusted adult is a good way to deal with your emotions. If you have siblings you might find you have different reactions to your parents’ divorce but talking to each other can be a really valuable way to support each other.

However you are feeling, you should never feel guilty about the divorce and it does not affect the way your parents or carers feel about you.

What happens next?

It can be hard to cope with the changes that might come as a result of your parents or carers separating or getting divorced. These can include:

  • Moving house
  • Moving to an area away from your friends
  • Moving schools
  • Separating from a sibling or another relative
  • Leaving a pet
  • Leaving your belongings

Often your parents or carers will decide who you live with, based on what is best for you. This might mean you only see the other parent at the weekends or certain times.

Sometimes it is too difficult for your parents or carers to make that decision, and they will get help from a lawyer, social worker or mediator. This might seem scary but this person is there to make sure that the right decision is reached and that you are safe.

Who can I speak to?

It is normal for these changes to leave you feeling hurt, betrayed, anxious and lonely, but remember there are people and organisations who can support you through this if you are struggling to cope.

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