When your parents live together, they are both responsible for taking care of you. When your parents stop living together, this might change.
Your parents might be able to agree on parenting arrangements themselves. But if they can't agree, even with the help of a mediator or conciliator, they will have to go to court and have a judge decide.
If this happens, the judge who is making the decisions will consider things like:
If one parent has custody, the other parent usually has access visits or parenting time, which means that you visit him or her. There are lots of different ways to arrange how you spend time with your other parent. Visits might be for a few hours every week, or for weekends or a few days every two weeks or month. If your other parent lives far away, parenting time can also include keeping in touch in other ways, like phone calls, e-mails, and letters.
These arrangements may be very specific — actually spelling out the specific hours and days for visits — or very general and flexible.
When two people have been living together and they decide not to live together anymore, they are separated. However, when married people separate, their marriage has not yet ended. They have to get a divorce to legally end a marriage. Common-law couples don't have to get a divorce, because there is no marriage to end.
Ideally, your parents will make the decisions together about who you will live with and how that will work. Your opinion should be taken into account.
Common-law parents — parents who chose to live together without getting married — don't have to get a divorce, because there is no marriage to end. But they do need to decide what will happen to their children and how they will divide their property.