Welcome to A Teen Guide to Separation and Divorce. This site is for you if

  • your parents have recently separated or divorced,
  • you think they are about to, or
  • you have a friend in that situation.

Disclaimer

Parental separation and divorce are hard on teens. One thing that can help is information about what separation and divorce mean in Maine, and how divorce might affect you.

  • The purpose of this site is to provide you with information. The site is not intended to provide therapy, support or legal advice.
  • Do you have younger brothers or sisters? If so, get them to check out the Kids' Guide.

What you’ll find on this website:

  • What's Happening and Why: What separation and divorce mean, some of the reasons why they happen, and why you are not the reason for your parents' separation or divorce
  • Changes in Your Life: Things that are most likely to change in your life when your parents separate or divorce, some things that probably won't change, and some tips on getting used to change and getting on with your life.
  • Your Emotions: Common feelings teens have when their parents separate or divorce, and some tips on how to deal with them.
  • Strategies: Strategies for dealing with some of the new situations you might experience when your parents separate or divorce.
  • About the Law: This section outlines some of the Maine laws about separation and divorce, including a list of key words and definitions.
  • Resources: People who can help, and more sources of information.
  • FAQ—Some Frequently Asked Questions about parental separation and divorce.

This website is provided by Pine Tree Legal Assistance, with funding from the Legal Services Corporation. It was developed by the Justice Education Society of British Columbia

Q & A

Q:
Do I have to take sides, or choose one parent over the other?
A:

No, you don't. You have the right to love and be loved by both parents.

If you are feeling pressured to take sides, and you feel you are caught in the middle of your parents' problems, tell them.

Q:
What is the difference between separation and divorce?
A:

When two people have been living together and they decide not to live together anymore, they are separated.

However, when married people separate, their marriage has not yet ended. They have to get a divorce to legally end a marriage.

Couples who have not been married don't have to get a divorce, because there is no marriage to end. But they may still be going to court to decide on parenting time and dividing property.

Q:
Can I do anything to get my parents back together?
A:

Most parents split up only after trying very hard to save their relationship. Their decision to separate or divorce is usually final.

Some teens hope and believe that if they try to be on their very best behavior, their parents will get back together. However, this plan isn't likely to work, since their parents' decision to split up had nothing to do with them.

Apart from suggesting that your parents see a marriage counselor, if they haven't already done so, the best thing that you can do is to begin to accept the situation so that you can get on with your life.

Q:
If my parents divorce, will the same thing happen to me?
A:

Many teens whose parents split up feel anxious about their own relationships in the future. But just because your parents split up doesn't mean the same thing will happen to you. What happens in your relationships will be up to you, not your parents!

Q:
I have so many questions about why this has happened and what is going to happen in the future. How much can I ask my parents?
A:

If there are things you need to know, ask.

You have a right to ask questions about what is going to happen and why. Although you need to respect your parents' right to privacy, they have a responsibility to answer your questions as best they can about things that directly affect you.