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Sometimes people who are splitting up have to go to court to have a judge make decisions for them, because they aren't able to reach an agreement themselves.

Children and teens usually don't have to go to court. However, someone who works for the court might meet with you to find out what is best for you.

The court process can take a long time. Your parents may have to wait a long time for a court date, and they may have to go back to court several times, with a long wait each time. It won't happen overnight.

Q & A

Will I be able to spend time with both parents?

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, will depend on your custody and parenting time (visitation) arrangements.

Remember: Parents divorce each other, not their children. Your parents are still your parents, and they still love you.

My parents never married. Do they have to go through the same process that married parents do when they split up?

Parents who never married or chose to live together without getting married—don't have to get a divorce, because there is no marriage to end. But they do need to decide what will happen to their children and how they will divide their property.

Who decides who I will live with? Do I get a say?

In some cases, your parents will make the decisions together about who you will live with and how that will work.

If they can't decide themselves, they might go to a mediator for help in reaching an agreement. Or they might have to go to court and have a judge make the decisions for them.

Whether your parents make the decisions about custody and parenting time (visitation) themselves, or with the help of a mediator or a judge, your opinion may be taken into account.