Parents Who Are Not Married

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Some parents are not married. They chose to live together without getting married. 

When parents who are not married stop living together, they 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.

The laws about custody and parenting time or visitation, or who children live with when parents separate, are the same for married couples as they are for parents who are not married.

However, the laws about dividing properthy (the things they own together) are not the same.

Q & A

Q:
Will I be able to spend time with both parents?
A:

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.

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

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.

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

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.