Sometimes couples continue to live together temporarily in the family home after they have decided to separate. As you can imagine, there are benefits and challenges to living together while separating.
On the one hand, living together while separating can be less expensive than maintaining two homes. It also delays the need to make major decisions regarding new housing or a parenting plan. On the other hand, it may be easier to negotiate with each other when you are living in separate homes. Many of our clients ask to negotiate interim living arrangements in mediation.
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If you and your spouse will be living together while separating, here are some ground rules to consider:
- Household Responsibilities: Consider setting up a schedule for household responsibilities such as grocery shopping, meal preparation, laundry, and general house clean up.
- Privacy: Consider having separate bedrooms. Neither party should enter the other’s space.
- Alone Time: Consider having days/times when you will each have full use of the home, if possible.
- Sharing the Common Areas of the Home: Consider setting up a schedule for shared and separate time in the common areas of the home (kitchen, living room etc.)
- Communication: Establish how communication regarding the children and other issues will be managed (i.e. text, email, phone call, in-person meeting etc.). You may find it helpful to schedule meetings outside of the home to discuss terms of the separation.
- No Intimacy: There should be no intimacy so that each party and the children are clear. Similarly, neither party should bring a new partner to the home.
- Public Messaging: Consider what the public messaging to friends and family will be.
- Finances: Consider whether to separate finances or maintain the status quo for the time being. You may also consider whether to begin child/spousal support payments, with each party to pay a share of the household expenses. Are any changes needed to the budget?
- Parenting Responsibilities: Consider whether to set up a schedule of parenting responsibility.
- Be Flexible: Be open to reviewing your arrangements, as needed, and be prepared to make changes. If living in the same home is not working, consider nesting until you are both ready to make permanent changes. With a nesting schedule, the children remain in the home and the parents take turns living in the home with the children based on an agreed upon schedule. The parents will need another place to stay when they are not scheduled to be in the family home.
Keep in mind that with any parenting/nesting schedule, you may be establishing a status quo, that might be a factor in determining the children’s future schedule.
Our mediators are experienced family law lawyers and we are here to help. If you are in the process of separating from your spouse or considering separation, click here to schedule a free Zoom call with one of our mediators to learn more about our services and to answer any questions you may have about the mediation process.