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Divorce and separation

Sometimes people who are married or in a relationship decide to split up, separate or divorce. This can happen for many different reasons. It's not your fault and you shouldn't blame yourself.

Divorce and separationWhat does separation mean?

Separation or splitting up is when two adults who have been in a relationship decide to live apart and end their relationship.

This could just be for a short time or they may decide to split up forever. They may not know whether it will be forever when it first happens. It can take time to decide.

What does divorce mean?

When two married people decide they don't want to be married to each other anymore, they can arrange to get a divorce.

A court has to allow them to get divorced. When someone is divorced they are free to marry someone else in the future.

My parents argue all the time. Will they split up?

People in relationships sometimes argue. This doesn’t always mean that they are going to split up.

If you are worried about your parents or carers arguing, you could try telling them how you feel.

Talking to them will help them understand how you are feeling. Sometimes people don’t realise how you’re feeling until you tell them. Your parents may be able to reassure you about what is happening.

If you don’t feel like you can talk to your parents, you can talk to ChildLine at any time on 0800 1111.

  • My parents are separating or getting divorced. Is it my fault?

    No, it isn’t your fault. You haven’t done anything to make your parents split up and you shouldn’t blame yourself. This is something your parents have decided to do. No one has the right to blame you for what is happening.

  • I'm worried that my parents don't love each other anymore.

    Love in a relationship is based on lots of things like respect, support and trust. If these things disappear or change then the love in a relationship may not stay the same as it was. Sometimes people grow apart. They might not love each other in the same way anymore but they might love each other in a different way. Every relationship is different.

    Some people who separate or divorce are able to stay friendly afterwards. Others need time apart. This can be hard for children and young people in the family. If you are coping with a separation or divorce in your family, ChildLine is here to listen.

  • Why do people split up, separate or divorce?

    There are lots of reasons why people decide to separate or divorce. Some couples decide they need time and space to work out their problems, or because they are finding it hard to get on with each other. It might not be forever and some couples do get back together after some time apart. 

    If two people do decide to split up permanently or get divorced, it's often because they can’t find a way to work out their problems or live with each other anymore. Sometimes splitting up can eventually lead to a more peaceful and happier home situation for everyone.

  • What will happen to me if my parents split up?

    Usually your parents will need to decide which one of them you are going to live with. You should then be able to see your other parent regularly. For example, you might spend time with them in the evenings or visit them for weekends.

    You might not be able to have things your way, but it’s important to tell them how you feel. Try and tell your parents what you want so they are aware of your feelings.

    Sometimes parents can’t agree about who their children will live with. They might get
    help from a lawyer or a mediator. A mediator is someone who will talk to your parents and try to get them to agree a plan for what will happen next. This person will talk through all the options and ask the children what they want.  This might be scary but they are just trying to work out what is best for the family.

    If your parents are separating or getting divorced and you are worried, you can talk to ChildLine at any time by phoning 0800 1111, sending an email or having a 1-2-1 chat.

Other sites that can help

Support for young people affected by divorce.
My parents are separating (CAFCASS)

Support and advice for children and teenagers.
Divorce Aid

A booklet with tips for coping.
My family's changing

Information about what happens if parents divorce.
When parents divorce (

Tips for working through emotions you may feel.
Dealing with divorce (


Are your parents going through a divorce? Get support from other young people who are experiencing the same thing on the message boards.

Divorce and seperation message board

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Divorce and separation 


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