What's Happening

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When people decide to live together and have children, they hope they will be together forever. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way. Life can get pretty complicated. Sometimes, problems arise—not just the little everyday problems like who is going to take the garbage out, but big problems that parents just can't seem to solve, no matter how hard they try.

Parents separate when they can't solve their problems, and they decide they can't live together anymore.

Some married parents who separate decide to get a divorce, because they no longer want to be married.

You can find out more about the differences between separation and divorce, and what is involved in the Law section.

Q & A

What is the difference between separation and divorce?

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.

Can I do anything to get my parents back together?

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.

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?

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.