Living together during a divorce is not ideal but often the most cost-effective. However, many will tell you it's challenging to figure out how not to get into a serious daily argument. In addition, some believe moving out of the marital home will impact court decisions on child custody and asset division, which is incorrect.
In many divorces, it's not financially possible to move out of the marital residence after spouses have decided to end their marriage. This creates an awkward situation, especially when children are involved, but you must find a way to live together until all the divorce issues are finalized.
This situation is challenging and stressful as what was once a loving home had become a war zone. Worse, kids could be exposed to their parents fighting, which can cause long-term emotional trauma.
Whatever the reasons for divorcing couples, such as financial issues, you must find a way to get along with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. It's not easy, but there are some steps you can take to make the situation a little easier and to reduce the hostile environment.
One way is to create separate personal spaces in your home. All relationships will have arguments. The more time you spend with your spouse, the greater the chance an argument will begin, especially during a divorce proceeding. If you are forced to wait months to finalize your divorce, as there is a mandatory waiting period, you could be in an ugly situation at home.
While at home, both spouses must be civil, courteous, and respectful toward each other. Don't attempt to make the other feel guilty or responsible for the divorce. Playing the blame game will make the situation worse.
Every divorce is unique, and most are deeply emotional and personal. Sometimes, the idea that you would still live with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse during the divorce process is crazy.
For others, putting their children's best interest first is their top priority, and they will do whatever it takes to minimize the impact on their kids. Some do not have the financial means to support two households, and living together during their divorce proceedings is their only option. Let's review this topic further below.
Tips for Living Together While Divorcing
California does not require couples to live separately for a certain period before filing for a divorce. Therefore, living together will not impact your ability to get divorced after the required six-month waiting period.
This means that living with your spouse during this period will be challenging. If you have no other choice but to share space in the same home, here are some tips that might help:
- Avoid fighting around the kids;
- Respect personal space;
- Give each other privacy;
- Sleep in separate rooms;
- Communicate respectfully;
- Separate household expenses;
- Pay bills based on income;
- Create a reasonable living budget;
- Transparency in financial issues;
- Decide how to divide assets and debts;
- Separate responsibilities;
- Develop a routine;
- Set physical and emotional boundaries.
Rule #1 – Your Child's Best Interest is Top Priority
All California family law courts have the same primary goal when making divorce-related decisions. Simply put, a child’s best interest is their top priority.
For most parents, their kid's well-being is also at the top of their list. Some, however, will let emotions take over and struggle with putting their kid's needs first.
You must find a way to be careful around your kids. Constant fighting around your children causes them extreme stress during an already emotionally difficult time.
You can read some articles on self-control and anger management to help you. Then, you can start therapy sessions. Educating yourself on some techniques can help keep your emotions in check during the time it takes to finalize your divorce.
This could also help your kids make the transition to having separated parents. Remember that your situation is temporary, and you can move on with your lives soon. Do whatever it takes to make the home as suitable for the kids.
Respect Spouse's Personal Space
It would be wise to designate specific home areas as personal space and respect the boundaries.
Remember, the longer you are in personal contact with your spouse, the greater the chance of an argument.
Both sides will find it beneficial to be alone when they feel overwhelmed by the divorcing reality and have a private space to escape. Of course, some areas must remain public, but assigning rooms, such as the basement or upstairs bedroom, can be accessible with a larger home.
Simply put, set boundaries and then respect them. If you fail to do this, you set yourself up for further arguments and resentment.
Further, getting into a routine when you are home and away can be a good strategy for minimal contact with your soon-to-be-former spouse.
This is especially wise in the unfortunate situation where your relationship has reached a point where you can barely look at each other, much less communicate.
What About Finances and Paying the Bills?
It would be best to accept that everything has changed and you must make some adjustments, but remember that this is a temporary situation. Keep your expectations in check and reasonable. It would be best if you considered separating household expenses and responsibilities.
Suppose it's reasonable to divide the household expenses down the middle. In that case, you will have a good idea of your monthly cost and learn what you must do when you start living separately. Some financial tips for living with your spouse during divorce include the following:
- Make a realistic living budget with your spouse;
- Create a list of all shared household spending;
- List which spouse will pay which bills;
- Pay bills proportionate to your income;
- Be open and honest about financial matters;
- Separate names off of joint accounts;
- Keep track of all spending;
- Be transparent about your spending habits;
- Outline your child custody and child support decision;
- Commit to not arguing over money.
It's common to think your spouse is trying to spend all the marital money, and while this happens, it's just not that common. So don't tell your spouse you fear they will go on a colossal spending spree out of spite.
It is time to split the expenses if you usually cover all household bills. However, if you pay the majority of bills, then you are setting a standard that you may have to continue after the divorce.
For example, suppose you earn 60% of the total household income. In that case, you should agree to pay that percentage of the bills, and your spouse would be responsible for the remainder. After the household bills are separated, you might still be unable to afford long-term alimony payments.
Consult with Our Divorce Lawyers
If you plan to stay in the same home with your spouse during divorce proceedings, consult with our Los Angeles divorce attorneys for legal advice and representation to allow you to make wise decisions about your life after divorce.
It would be best if you were realistic with expectations. For example, suppose your spouse makes substantially less income because they gave up a career job to raise your children.
In that case, it's not fair that you would expect them to be able to afford a new home or pay most of their debts. Divorce, by its nature, is a series of compromises. You will not get all you want and must find a way to agree with your spouse.
We can help you understand your divorce's aspects and what you should settle now. You can contact us via phone or the contact form for a free case evaluation.
The California Certified Family Law Specialist at Furman & Zavatsky is located in Los Angeles County.