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Why some couples cohabitate through separation and divorce

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2022 | Divorce

Not all couples who decide to divorce immediately start living apart. For any number of reasons – usually, but not always, financial – some decide to remain in their home together but separate for a time. Often, they believe it’s best for the kids.

One New York couple decided to remain in their Greenwich Village apartment when they broke up because they’d otherwise have to give that up and find two places to live in a costly real estate market. They ended up making a web series about their “unusual situation.”

It’s not as unusual as it used to be. One psychiatrist says that “with the uptick in housing costs it’s often impossible for one person in the marriage to leave, so the couple has to lead separate lives under one roof.” He adds, “If they’re fighting, it’s bad for their kids. But if they do get along, the situation can provide a sense of stability.” 

It’s just important to make sure the kids aren’t confused about their parents’ relationship. You likely will have to deal with explaining the arrangement to family, friends and romantic partners.

Ground rules are crucial

If you and your spouse decide to continue cohabitating throughout the divorce process, it’s essential that you agree to certain things. For example:

  • Each person should have their own spaces. Sleeping areas definitely need to be separate.
  • You should reach an agreement on how household expenses and chores will be divided.
  • Some kind of child care arrangement should be worked out – for example, how will you divide responsibility for taking the kids to and from school and other activities?

How much of your life you still share will depend on things like whether you have kids, how large your home is and how much each of you is around. For example, if one spouse is away on business a lot, cohabitation can be much easier. Of course, things between you have to be relatively amicable. Otherwise, you’re Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner battling it out in War of the Roses.

It’s wise to put some kind of cohabitation agreement in place if you’re “separated” under one roof, whether you’ve started the divorce process or not. Having your own legal representation at this stage will help you protect your rights and wishes. 

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