My parents don’t live together

  • You have a right not to be separated from your parents
  • Even if your parents don’t live together, you should still be able to have contact with both of them, if you want it
  • You will be involved in any decisions a court has to make about who you will live with and the contact you have with your parents

You shouldn’t be separated from your parents unless there is a good reason for this. If your parents don’t live together you may live with one of them most of the time, or share your time equally between both your parents. Even if you’re not with one of your parents, you can still keep in touch with him or her if that’s what you want.

If your parents can’t agree where you should live, the court might get involved to make a decision. If this happens, your opinion will be listened to.

Can I still see my mum and my dad?

You have the right to stay in contact with both your parents, even if you don’t spend as much time with one of them as you would like. The only reason why you might not be allowed to stay in touch with one of your parents is if he or she is hurting you, or it would be harmful for you to be in contact with them. This applies to all children, whether their parents are together or not.

Who makes decisions about where I will live?

If your parents don’t want to live together any more, they can try and agree where you will live. The decisions they make will depend on lots of things. If both your parents want to stay living in the same area, you may be able to split your time equally between your mum and your dad. If one of them wants to move to a new area, your parents may agree a different arrangement so you can carry on going to the same school during term time, but visit your other parent at weekends or holidays.

What happens if my parents can’t agree who I will live with?

If your mum and dad can’t agree about where you will live, they will need to ask a judge in the Family court to make the decision. You will be asked about what your views are, and what you think will happen. An organisation called CAFCASS CYMRU will be involved and you will speak to a Family Court Advisor who will write a report that the court will see.

Will I be asked to choose between my mum or my dad?

No. You won’t be asked to choose between your mum or your dad. The court will make the decision about where you live by working out what will be in your best interests. You will be asked about what you think, and what you would like to happen, but you won’t be made to choose.

Will I have to go to court?

You won’t usually be expected to go to the court when the decisions are being made. If you would really like to talk to the judge who will make the decision you should let your CAFCASS CYMRU Family Court Advisor know that this is what you would like to do. They may be able to arrange it for you to speak to the judge about what is happening and about what you want.

Will my mum and my dad still be involved in looking after me?

Both your parents are responsible for bringing you up, even if they don’t live together. Your mum has ‘parental responsibility’ for you from the moment you are born, and in most cases, your dad will have parental responsibility too. If both parents have parental responsibility, they will both keep it even if they have split up and you don’t live with one of them or see them very often. This means that they should both be involved in important decisions about you.

What if I want to change where I live?

You may decide that the new living arrangements that your parents agreed, or that the court decided, aren’t right for you. If the court made an order about where you would live, this usually lasts until you are 18. If you are 16 or over and you don’t want to live with the parent you are supposed to live with any more, it will be difficult for anyone to stop you going to live with the other parent.

If you are under 16, you may be able to agree different arrangement with your parents. You could also talk to CAFCASS CYMRU to find out about changing the arrangements.

What if I am not being allowed to stay in touch with my other parent?

If your mum or dad has been hurting you or not looking after you properly, the local authority may have asked a judge to make a decision that you should not be allowed to be in touch with that person. You will be asked by a Family Court Advisor from CAFCASS CYMRU about how you feel about this before the decision is made, but it will be the judge who makes the decision. He or she will have to make a decision which is in your best interests.

If the parent you are living with is making it difficult for you to see the other parent, this is wrong. If you can talk to the parent who is making it hard for you to see your other parent, you may be able to work something out that means you do get tp see and spend time with your other parent. This is often called ‘contact’. If you can’t talk to them, or you try and they won’t listen, it might help to talk to another adult who you trust.

The other parent can apply to court for contact with you, or, if this isn’t possible, you may be able to apply for contact yourself. You will need to get legal advice about this, so you might start by talking to CAFCASS CYMRU who might be able to help you.