When your parents live together, they are both responsible for taking care of you. When your parents stop living together, this might change.
Your parents might be able to agree on custody and parenting time themselves. But if they can't agree, even with the help of a mediator, they will have to go to court and have a judge decide. If this happens, the judge who is making the decisions will consider things like:
If one parent has custody, the other parent usually has parenting time or visitation, which means that you visit him or her. There are lots of different ways to arrange how you spend time with the parent who has parenting time. Visits might be for a few hours every week or two weeks or month, or for weekends or a few days every two weeks or month. If the parent with parenting time lives far away, parenting time can also include keeping in touch in other ways, like phone calls, e-mails, and letters. Parenting agreements may be very specific—actually spelling out the specific hours and days for visits—or very general and flexible.
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.
In some cases, your parents will make the decisions together about who you will live with and how that will work.
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.
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.