Living together during a divorce

Times are tough and many divorcing couples are finding that they cannot afford to go their separate ways until their assets and finances are legally separated. In some cases, the family home must be sold and its proceeds split so a divorcing couple can live separately. This means that an increasing number of Americans are looking for ways to live amicably with someone that they are seeking to separate from.

Set ground rules

It is vital that you set ground rules for your cohabitation as soon as it becomes apparent that neither of you can immediately vacate the family home. This may feel very awkward as it is likely that it will require a significant change to how you have previously lived together, but setting boundaries is essential to avoid blurring the lines between married and divorced while you are sharing a home. 

This is of particular importance if you have children as you will not want to make their home life uncomfortable or expose them to your disputes or any petty behavior. Be open and honest with your children and explain that this new agreement should not impinge on their relationships with either of you. If they are old enough or mature enough, let them work with you to determine what your future as a family may look like. 

Agree on how the house and chores will be shared

You may wish to consider putting in place a cohabitation or “roommate” agreement [1]. You will need to agree on where each of you will sleep and store your belongings, as well as the measures that you will take to ensure your privacy. You will also need to agree on rules for using common spaces such as the living room, bathroom and kitchen and decide how domestic chores will be divided fairly. This not only ensures a fair distribution of the property but is good preparation for when one or both of you leaves the family home after the divorce is completed. Learn how Lewis & Matthews can assist in preparing a cohabitation agreement.

Agree on how finances will be divided

It is important to agree up front how any maintenance or repairs that are needed at the property while you are living together will be funded. Some couples choose to keep a joint account that will only be used for the purposes of property maintenance while they are living together. You should also agree on who will purchase food and other consumables that you will both use, such as cleaning products, toilet paper and other such necessities to ensure that neither party is unfairly disadvantaged.

Establish psychological and emotional boundaries

You will need to learn to set psychological and emotional boundaries [2]. Do not be railroaded into spending time with your ex when you do not want to. Keep in mind that as you are going through a divorce, you are essentially single, so there is no need for you to be their plus one at work or social events if you do not wish to be. Pursue your own hobbies and interests, and do not be drawn into any personal drama.

Put a parenting schedule in place

If you have children living at home, make sure you will both spend a fair amount of time with them, support them with their school work and extracurricular activities, and essentially keep their lives as normal as possible during this period of flux. Sharing childcare responsibilities in this manner prepares parents and children for the changing family dynamic while giving each parent the opportunity for some time to themselves.

Do not allow time to drift

It is essential that you achieve a position of stability as quickly as possible. Although you and your ex must maintain an amicable living arrangement until the divorce is finalized, you should be wary of becoming too comfortable with the cohabiting situation as it could have ramifications in the future, particularly if either of you begins a new relationship while still living with your ex. 

Make sure to supply all documentation that your attorney needs in a timely manner and cooperate with divorce proceedings to ensure that a fair and equitable resolution is achieved to allow all parties to move on with their lives.

Even though your circumstances may dictate that living together while getting divorced is necessary, by putting ground rules in place and sticking to them, you will be well prepared for facing life as a single person with a good grip on your finances and an established parenting agreement that will leave you in the best position for future co-parenting success.

When you need help navigating the implications of divorce, Lewis & Matthews, P.C. will be here to help you. Our experienced team is empathetic and will provide you with the insights and legal guidance you need to achieve a position of clarity and security for your future.