Stuck With You.

Can you imagine purposefully living with your ex after you’ve separated? It’s not uncommon for couples to live together during the separation process, but cohabitation after the divorce is final has historically been very rare.

Prior to Covid, we can remember only one couple that lived together post divorce. The husband wanted to keep the marital home but he was unable to buy out the Wife’s share of the equity at the time of the divorce; typically, in this type of situation, the home would have typically been listed for sale but the wife graciously agreed to wait until after her 99 year old father in law, who also lived there, passed or was otherwise relocated. *

While this type of situation is still very rare, some couples do consider some form of cohabitation post-divorce. We recently worked on an agreement where the parties alternated use of the marital home depending on who had parenting time. We’ve also created agreements for parents who intend to live together so that they both could be physically present on a daily basis. While we always love the idea of providing a united front to the children and keeping things are “normal” as possible, we haven’t found any research to support whether these situations are actually in the best interest of the children.

If parties are going to even consider cohabitation post-divorce, there need to be some well established ground rules. How long will this arrangement last? What happens if one person decides that they no longer wish to cohabitate or wants to buy out the other? Who is covering each specific household expense? Who will be responsible for household chores? Will one parent be paying child support during the cohabitation period? Will they be able to problem solve and communicate better once divorced? What will happen when one person starts to date?**

There are a multitude of reasons that people consider cohabitation post-divorce, including:
1. The transition from a two income household is not always easily manageable if both parties are not self sufficient (with or without child support or alimony);
2. One party may have credit issues which may effect their ability to buy or rent; OR
3. Suitable housing may be difficult to find, especially if a person is hoping to remain in the same school district or needs an apartment with more than two (2) bedrooms.

While these reasons (and others) are certainly understandable, the traditional options are still the default: either you list the house for sale or one party buys out the other by giving them a portion of the equity in the marital home.

As always, we welcome your thoughts our newsletter or answer any questions!

Faye & John

* In this case, waiting actually increased the value of her equity in the home due to the spike in home values during this period.

** Do you remember this scene from The Break Up? Ironically, this is probably the least uncomfortable and complex situation that might occur: