Families Change Teen Guide to Separation & Divorce

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When parents get a divorce, it means they are legally ending their marriage.

The laws about divorce are the same across Canada. People in Ontario get divorced the same way people in British Columbia or Newfoundland get divorced.

A divorce can only be granted by a judge. However, your parents won't have to appear in front of a judge in court unless there are things they can't agree on, like custody and access, support, or property division.

Q & A

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

Common-law parents — parents who 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.

Who decides who I will live with?

Ideally, your parents will make the decisions together about who you will live with and how that will work. Your opinion should be taken into account.

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.

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. Common-law couples don't have to get a divorce, because there is no marriage to end.