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What are your rights when your parents separate?

You have rights. You have a right to have a good relationship with both of your parents.
You have a right to know and be cared for by both of your parents.
You have a right to love both your parents.
You have a right to live free of abuse, neglect and family violence.

Where will you live?

Your parents have a legal duty to look after you until you are 18. This includes providing you with food, shelter, clothing and education.

You also have a right to spend quality time with both of your parents.
So, your parents, with your input, will work out where you and your siblings will live and on which days of the week.

These living arrangements can vary greatly in different families. They can mean equal time with both parents or most of the time with one parent and school holidays with the other.

If you are uncomfortable about your living arrangements that have been made, you should talk to one or both of your parents, or another adult you trust.

What happens if your parents don’t agree on where you should live?

If your parents are having trouble with making an agreement about where you live and which days, they can ask for help from a third party such as a mediator. A mediator is a neutral third party to help parents work through their issues and agree on a solution.

If your parents go to mediation, the mediator will ask for your views on where you want to live and take these into account.

You can explain what you want:

  • in a mediation session with your parents present
  • to the mediator only
  • to a counsellor (family consultant).

Its okay to say what you think. No one will get in trouble.
Don’t say what someone else has told you to say.

What happens if your parents go to court?

If you parents cannot agree on living arrangements through mediation, they may decide to go to court.
If this happens, the judge will want to know what you think. They must take your wishes into consideration.

This is what happens:

  • you tell a family counsellor where you want to live, why and any concerns you have (like safety).
  • the counsellor will tell the judge your wishes.
  • you do not need to go to court.
  • it's okay to say what you think.
  • don’t say what someone else has told you to say.
  • at the end of the process, your parents or the counsellor will tell you the court’s decision, why the decision was made and how it affects you.

(Information adapted from Child Support Agency; Teens and Separation and Divorce).

This resource is tagged with:
separation and divorce