Not many people want to continue living with their former spouse during or after a divorce. However, many former couples simply cannot afford to move out as soon as the relationship falls apart. Other couples may need to wait until they find a buyer for their home before either spouse can afford to leave. In some situations, couples may end up living together for months following a divorce. If you and your ex-partner need to cohabitate, take note of these tips to keep your relationship civil.
Living with a former spouse is difficult because the relationship dynamic has changed. It is important to sit down with your ex-spouse and discuss your goals for your particular situation. Set an end date for living together, and figure out how you will rearrange your household expenses to meet that goal.
You and your ex will likely need to renegotiate your financial and household responsibilities in order to prevent resentment and hostility. For example, suppose Amy and Jordan were married for several years and have an eight-year-old child named Patrick. During the marriage, Jordan worked full time, while Amy worked part-time. The couple got divorced, but will have to live together for approximately six months due to their finances.
During the marriage, Amy took care of Jordan’s laundry and prepared most meals, while Jordan shouldered most of the financial responsibilities for household bills. After the marriage, both Amy and Jordan’s roles will need to shift. Jordan will probably need to start taking care of his own housework, while Amy may need to work full-time to be able to split the bills evenly. By acting as roommates rather than romantic partners, Jordan and Amy will minimize the amount of conflict in their relationship.
In addition to splitting household and financial responsibilities, it is important for couples to create their own boundaries and space. If possible, the couple should sleep in separate bedrooms. If the couple has children, the parents may need to share a room with their child until other arrangements can be made.
If separate bedrooms are impossible, the couples should at least create rooms or zones of the home which are private and off-limits to the other. Having a private space will help each spouse move forward with his or her life, and will provide an area to relax and destress.
Share Parenting Responsibilities
Finally, ex-spouses should try to separate parenting responsibilities as much as possible after a divorce. Rather than forcing both parents to constantly care for the children, each parent should exercise his or her designated parenting time as often as possible.
For instance, suppose in the example above that Amy and Jordan’s divorce agreement calls for them to share parenting time relatively equally. On the days that Amy is scheduled to care for their son, Jordan should feel free to do what he wishes and not make himself available to care for the child. Similarly, when Jordan has the child, Amy should be able to do as she pleases. This type of arrangement will help children get used to the regular parenting plan after their parents no longer live together.
Planning for Divorce
If your marriage is heading for divorce, start planning ahead now to facilitate living separately from your spouse. At Pacific Northwest Family Law, our attorneys can review your situation and advise you about the potential costs and expenses of your divorce so that you can make an informed decision about your future. To schedule your consultation, contact our office today by calling 360-926-9112.