Advice for Children

If your parents are getting divorced or breaking up it can be a worrying time. Here are some frequently asked questions that might help to explain what will happen:

Why are my parents breaking up?

There's all sorts of reasons why people split up. Just know that it is not your fault, and they can still be your Mum and Dad whether or not they live together.

What decisions need to be made about me?

There are decisions to be made about who you live with and how the other parent will get to see you. Sometimes you can live half of the time with one parent and half of the time with other parent. It all depends on what works best for you and your Mum or Dad.

Will I have to go to Court?

If you are under eighteen years old then you will not normally need to go to Court. The important thing is that you will get a chance to have your say.

How do I get to say what I want to the Judge?

If your Mum and dad can't agree on what's best for you, then a CAFCASS officer will speak to you directly. You will usually get a chance to speak to them on your own. They will then ask you what you want and tell the judge what your wishes are.

Will I always get my wishes agreed?

In most cases yes, judges take your wishes very seriously and what is best for you is the most important thing. However, sometimes decisions have to be made to keep you safe that you might not agree with. You always have the right to ask the CAFCASS officer why this decision was made.

Can I have my own solicitor?

Yes, you can appoint your own solicitor if you are facing care proceedings. We have to make sure that you are old enough to appoint a solicitor and that you understand what you are doing. We then have to decide if it is right for you to have a solicitor separately from your Legal Guardian. We are happy to talk to you about taking on your case. Contact us by clicking here.

I'm finding it hard to cope with. Who can I talk to?

You can talk to your teacher or a counsellor, or you can get help from Childline by ringing 0800 1111. They are there to support you and listen to at any time of day or night.

I keep hearing lots of words I don't understand. Can you explain them to me?

Here is an A-Z list of some of the words that might be used.

Barrister. A barrister is a bit like a solicitor but they speak on behalf of the adults in court. Your mum and dad will probably have a barrister to speak for them in front of the judge.

Cafcass. When court cases involve children a Cafcass officer interviews each family member and makes recommendations for the judge based on what they think is best for the children.

Contact is when children see the parent that no longer lives with them. 

Counsellor. A counsellor is a person who can help you deal with your feelings. They mostly just listen to make sure that you don't bottle them up.

Court. A court is a building where decisions regarding the law are made. Divorces and family matters are dealt with in a county court.

Decree Nisi/ Decree Absolute. These are documents that are part of the divorce process. When the decree absolute arrives the marriage is finished.

Divorce is a legal process where two people who have been married end the marriage. This could be for all sorts of reasons. It doesn't mean they stop being mum or dad.

Judge. A judge is a person who makes decisions in court. Not all divorces end up in court, but if the adults can't agree on who get the house, or arrangements for seeing the children the judge can make decisions for them.

Magistrate. A magistrate is like a judge and makes the same sort of decisions.

Maintenance is the money that the parent who no longer lives with the children pays the parent who does live with the children to help them to care for them.

Mediator. When parents can't agree but don't want to go to court, they can go to a mediator who helps them to talk to each other. It is a bit like having a referee, making sure that each side get an equal say.

Residency. Sometimes called custody. Residency is the parent that the children live with.

Solicitor. A solicitor is somebody who gives legal advice. Each parent will have their own solicitor to help them with their divorce. Sometimes young giraffepeople can get their own solicitor to help put their views across in court. 

If you need more advice, you can find lots of help and support on the Childline website at: