One popular myth about divorce perpetuated by movies, TV shows and books is that once the divorce papers have been filed, one of the spouses immediately must move out of the home the couple shared. While one spouse certainly can move out if he or she decides to do so, it’s not a requirement. The soon-to-be divorced couple can stay in the marital home during their divorce proceedings.
If domestic violence is involved or living together during the divorce is causing their children emotional stress, the divorcing couple should not stay in the same home. In these cases, they should talk to their attorneys about all the options they may have to protect their children and themselves. However, if neither of those situations apply and the divorcing couple is choosing to live together for financial reasons or the sake of convenience, there are some steps they can take to make the situation easier and less stressful. Check out the following six tips for living together during a divorce to help make this difficult time a bit easier on everyone involved.
Decide on the household expenses
The expenses of the household still need to be maintained by both parties if they are living together during the divorce process. After all, the mortgage still needs to be paid and the lights need to stay on. The couple should sit down and decide who will pay what, whether that comes in the form of an agreement the two reached together or is decided by a court order from a judge.
Establish living spaces
Living together during the divorce can be stressful and naturally lead to difficult situations. The key here is to create some sort of physical division in the living space. Designate which areas of the home belong to which spouse, with agreements on how to share common areas like bathrooms and the kitchen. It may be helpful to set some in and out times so each spouse knows approximately when the other spouse will be coming into and leaving the home.
Keep personal expenses separate
Personal expenses need to be kept separate during a divorce. If one spouse is a stay-at-home parent and does not have income of his or her own, that spouse can ask his or her attorney to get a temporary order for financial spousal support.
Assign household chores
Once the divorce process begins, the spouses should stop doing chores for each other. This means one spouse should not cook for the other spouse or clean that spouse’s living space or do that spouse’s laundry, and they should not eat meals together. However, if the spouses have children, having meals together may be acceptable if it helps maintain a level of normality for those children.
Set a parenting schedule
When children are involved, it is important to set a parenting schedule that gives both parents equal time alone with the children. This will also help protect the stability and emotional well-being of the children affected by the divorce.
Start house hunting
Living together during a divorce should only be a short-term solution. Once it becomes clear which spouse will be staying in the marital home, the other spouse should begin looking for a place that is within his or her income. The new place can be temporary if the moving spouse needs the money from the divorce settlement to find a more permanent home.