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Separation and Divorce

Topics in this section:

Separation and divorce is hard for everyone involved. It’s hard for your parents, your brothers and sisters (if you have them), your extended family and of course you...



Common feelings

• Shock
• Disbelief – finding it hard to accept what has happened
• Anger and resentment
• Relief
• Sadness and hopelessness
• Guilt
• Regret
• Anxiety, restlessness and irritability
• Panic
• Isolation
• Feeling lost
• Feeling confused
• Feeling frightened
• Finding it hard to concentrate
• Thinking constantly about it
• Imagining how things would be if they got back together
• Having weird dreams or nightmares


Common questions

“What does this mean for me?”

“Will things always be like this?”

“Who will I live with?”

“Do I have to choose who I live with?” 

"Will I be safe?"

"How long does divorce take to be finalised?"

"Can my parents remarry?"


Remember Your Rights

It’s not okay to feel like you are stuck in the middle. Tell your parents you don’t like it when they ask you to give messages to one another or when they say mean things about each other to you.

You don’t have to choose/split loyalties – it's not okay to be pressured into choosing sides if you want to stay out of it.

It’s not okay if they rely on you to look after them – remember they are the parent, and you are the child. 


How to Cope

  • Remember you are not alone

  • It’s not your fault

  • It’s not up to you to ‘fix’ the situation

  • Stay connected to both sides of the family

  • Remember that grief or sadness is normal

  • Having lots of mixed up feelings is normal

  • It's normal to feel worried about the future (write down the things that are concerning you and then talk to mum and dad)

  • Keep communication open

  • Choose the right time to talk to them – ring them, text them, leave a note, or book in a time alone with them

  • Ask questions

  • Ask for help (let both parents know what you are needing and how they can help you)

  • Keep your routine/activities/connection with others

  • Stay in touch with other family members (aunties, grandparents etc.)

  • Talk to your friends (but remember everyone’s experience is different)

  • Talk to your school counsellor, teacher, helpline (someone impartial) 

  • Keep organised – have specific things at both houses (like toothbrush, clothes and medication at both houses)

Coping with new partners or step-family members

  • There are lots of kids in NZ with blended families - so you're not alone

  • It can be really hard to share your space, your things, and your time with other kids

  • It can be especially hard if you lose your place in the family (like being the eldest or youngest)

  • Be respectful

  • Spend some time together, even if it feels weird at first

  • Give the kid(s) a chance (they probably feel similarly to you)

Check out this guide to separation for young people for some more info!  


Letter to Your Parents

Talking to your parents can be pretty tricky, like knowing what to say and how to say it. If you're feeling a bit stuck, you could write a letter (even if you don't give it to them this is a good way to get your feelings out).

In your letter you could follow this kind of format...

Dear ____

I have chosen to write this letter because ____________. I hope this letter will ________. I feel  angry when ______.  I feel sad when _____________. I feel scared/worry that ___________________. I am happy that ____________. I like it when you__________ I don't like it when ________. My hope is that _________________.


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