Young people and divorcing parents
If your parents are about to separate or divorce, you may have heard some unpleasant stories from friends and family, or seen something on the TV which causes you concern. This article has been formulated to provide you with the facts.
One parent has to start the divorce process. That parent is the petitioner, and the other parent the respondent. The divorce process takes about 6-12 months depending upon the workload of the court and the co-operation of both parents.
Often, divorcing parents can reach agreement in relation to the financial aspects and about the care and living arrangements for you and your siblings, although these factors may add to the length of the divorce process. Lifestyles may have to change as resources will no longer be pooled but if your parents can reach an agreement about the care of you and your siblings, there will be no need for solicitors or the court to become involved.
Sometimes it is difficult for parents to agree over your care and this is because they both love you so much. They may need to go to mediation prior to having to ask a judge to decide. If they do need to go to court for the judge to make a decision, it is rare that children must attend; however, as young people who come across as being able to form an opinion relatively maturely, then your wishes and feelings will be taken into account. The judge will make a decision ensuring that your best interests are foremost, and ensure that you maintain relationships with both of your parents. Children never have to go to court over matters involving money.
If one or both of your parents involve solicitors in the divorce process, then it does not necessarily mean that they cannot agree on anything, rather that they may find it easier to let a solicitor deal with all the paperwork!
If you are unsure of anything whilst this process is ongoing, then you may wish to visit the Voices in the Middle website. This is a website built by and for young people who have experienced divorcing parents.
Carol Robinson is a solicitor in the Family department at Barker Gotelee Solicitors.