“What do you mean, you’re still living with each other?”
Your friends may be astonished that you’re still sharing a household with the man you’re in the process of divorcing. But these days, divorcing spouses seem to be sharing living quarters much more often than in the past. This decision helps save money, allows both parents to participate fully in their children’s lives, and serves a variety of special circumstances that vary from one family to another.
But it’s not easy. We have some advice for couples who are trying to create a stable household in a dissolving marriage:
Establish and Closely Follow a Budget
During your divorce, your household budget should not be much different than before, with the exception of legal expenses. It is unfortunately not uncommon for spouses to fear the other is withholding money or buying debit cards for use after the divorce is final.
To avoid suspicion, you should sit down together to redefine a realistic household budget based on last year’s taxes, mortgage or rent, utilities, groceries, etc., and hold to the budget as closely as possible. There should be a decided space in your home like a desk or designated file folder to collect any budget relevant papers, such as receipts, bank statements, credit card statements, and other bills, and reconcile everything at each month’s end.
Honesty will be the best policy between you both to handle your expenses, and will save you a lot of time and heartache.
Respecting Boundaries in Your Still-Shared Home
Fighting over the space in your home is unnecessary drama. To reduce tension between the two of you, it would be helpful to designate agreed upon “safety zones” that are exclusively yours versus his, so you’ll each have a room of your own to retreat to without intrusion.
Be Courteous and Communicate Your Schedules
You may not feel like you need to answer to anyone, especially your soon-to-be ex-husband, but if you let each other know when you will be coming and going, and consider establishing times that you will and won’t be home, you can each have your own alone time on your own or with the children without any threat of an ill-timed argument.
The more predictable your routines and schedules may be, the easier it will be to cohabitate, as neither of your will be fearful as to when either one of you might arrive unannounced.
Define Parenting Duties and Establish a Schedule
If you have children, now is the most appropriate time to introduce and ease your children into a parenting schedule. Establish consistent days of the week that will be exclusively one parent’s or the other’s, with the understanding that all parental duties belong to the day’s designated parent. This means that if, for instance, Monday is your parenting day, then every Monday you are responsible for meals, getting to school, homework, and the bath and bedtime routine.
Setting this kind of schedule is meant to help your children learn to look to one parent during the day before the division of your household is final.
Use This Time to Plan Ahead
Living together while you finalize the terms of your divorce is sometimes unavoidable until terms are final. However, you should not cohabitate after the divorce, and now is the time for both of you to plan against that possibility. You or your husband (or both) should be searching for your next home. Whether you plan to move out, or your husband will, or if you’ll both need a new place of your own, looking and talking together about your housing searches will keep you both focused on the where you’re going: a final divorce.
Ideally, if you have children, you both should aim to settle in the same community and school district. Find out what the moving spouse needs to show for income and debts in order to qualify for a rent or mortgage, and then structure your budget planning and your divorce agreement as needed. Attending to these details now will also help your plans to move on, post-divorce.
We Can Help You Finalize Your Plans
Living together while you’re separating and divorcing, although not ideal, is often the easiest solution before the final terms of your divorce are settled. The Law Offices of Paul H. Nathan have helped many clients just like you get through this difficult time. We may be able to help you negotiate the terms of your legal separation, or assist in dividing your assets. Contact us today to speak with an attorney about your San Francisco divorce.
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