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living together during divorce

Living Together During a Divorce

In between deciding to get a divorce and officially splitting ways, you may have to live with your partner until everything is finalized. This can be for a variety of reasons. Maybe you have kids and agreed you both want to raise them in the same house. Maybe you or your partner don’t have the financial resources to live independently yet. Maybe because of a stay-at-home order, you have to live in the same home.

It can be a very difficult situation. The home, the car, the appliances–all of these items which were once shared are now divided. It’s no longer a relationship between husband and wife but two awkward, new roommates. An arrangement like this may feel intolerable, but it also could be necessary as the separation is finalized and the groundwork can be laid for you to begin a new journey.

Here are some tips and strategies for making this transition period as successful as possible.

Create “Ground Rules” for Each Other

Your relationship is different now than it was before, and so are the ways you want to be treated. You are no longer partners in the same marriage, but something different to each other. What this new relationship is and what it means, you might want to explore. Especially because of stay-at-home orders, you could be seeing each other more often than before. It helps to create boundaries with each other.

Designate some spaces and times for you, spaces and times for the other, and spaces and times to be together. You each will desire different degrees of privacy, but remember that in sharing the same house, contact with the other is unavoidable.

Talk about what behaviors are and aren’t acceptable while you are still living together. Is it okay if you or your partner gets back on the dating scene? Who can use the car and when? Getting clarification over these matters can prevent ugly disputes in the future.

Communication and the creation of these “ground rules” will help make your time together as respectful as possible.

Agree on How You Will Split the Bills

These bills include taxes, groceries, credit cards, etc. Typically, it’s a good idea to divide expenses based on current income or based on how you’ve paid bills before. Either way, you want to make it clear who will pay what. Otherwise, you risk financial consequences. If your name is attached to a credit card bill, for instance, but you refuse to pay in full because you feel half of the bill belongs to your partner, your credit score will suffer regardless.

Decide clearly who will pay for what. It’s very important that you also keep written records of who has been spending and earning what so your lawyer knows where you are financially. If it gets too emotional, you might even consider hiring a lawyer or mediator. You want to make sure you steer clear of money problems as best as you can.

Think About the Children

You might be tempted to butt heads while stuck at home during a divorce, but this is especially a bad idea when you have children. As much as it’s a difficult time for you, it’s a difficult time for your children. The negative effects divorce can have on children are well documented, from harming them academically to hurting their ability to handle conflict. Be very deliberate when interacting with your partner in front of your children.

Make sure to determine how you will divide up time with your children. You might want time with your children separately and time with your children together. You will also need to determine who will take care of your children and when, who will take them to activities, etc.

Your children can more acutely pick up on what’s going on between the two of you than you may think. Be extra careful with how you handle the situation with them. Show your children that you still respect each other, but let them know you are separating.

Don’t Start Any Bad Habits

Divorce can be very stressful for both sides, and it may be tempting to turn to “solutions” like alcohol or drug use. Yet far from soothing your anguish, these addictions will just add fuel to the fire. Excessive drinking will hinder your abilities to deal with your present circumstances and plan for the future. Far from making time with your partner more bearable, alcohol will more likely make you and your partner more irritable and upset. The bottle isn’t the answer.

Alcoholism and drug use are very serious issues that will certainly lead to more harm than good. When they come up during divorce proceedings, they can cause you to make regrettable decisions that will have terrible consequences on your future, such as how assets are divided, who receives child custody, personal reputation, etc. Make sure you put down the bottle, and if you feel you still need help, remember alcohol rehab is much more preferable to a damaged future.

Look Ahead to the Future

You’re not going to be able to remain under the same roof forever. Start budgeting and planning for the future. How will you financially support yourself? If you have children, how will child custody be sorted out? What are your next steps in life, from education to employment?

Just because you are sharing a home in a present doesn’t mean you can’t plan ahead for your own future. After a divorce, you get a chance to reinvent yourself. Planning ahead as thoroughly as possible will make the next chapter of your life easier to begin.

Conclusion

Getting through a divorce will be difficult. When you are stuck under the same roof with the person you’re trying to part from, it can be worse than living separately. But there are successful strategies we can use to make the process as painless as possible.

Develop “ground rules” and make communication as clear and open as possible. Make sure you are clear about who is paying what so you won’t run into financial difficulties. Always keep your children in mind during the separation. Plan ahead for the future so you can more easily step into your new life.

Links (in order):

family.findlaw.com/divorce/divorce-mediation-faq.html

marripedia.org/effects.of.divorce.on.children.s.behavior

dadsdivorce.com/articles/embracing-freedom-reinvent-divorce/

Author Bio: Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them. Website: patrickbaileys.com

Twitter: twitter.com/Pat_Bailey80    LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/patrick-bailey-writer