Top 7 Tips for Living Together During Divorce

Ending a marriage is surely a challenging experience. However, when you go through a divorce while living together, things can get even more complicated due to emotional turmoil, possible conflicts, accusations, and insults.

Usually, when people file for marriage dissolution, either one or both partners express their desire to part. Nevertheless, sometimes, they are forced to live together during the process due to the financial impossibility of renting a separate house, the need to make child-related arrangements, or other case-specific issues. No matter what prompts spouses to stay under one roof, it is necessary to create a clear plan for managing such residency without compromising each other’s comfort. Thus, they will be able to minimize quarrels, ensure a stable living environment for everybody in the family, and facilitate a transition to post-divorce life.

In this article, you can find the ground rules for living together while divorcing. The topic is truly controversial, but we tried to provide clear guidelines on how to live with your ex-husband in the same house or how a man should behave when he complains, “My wife wants a divorce but still wants to live together.” We will also try to determine any possible benefits of living together and share our insights with you.

Open Communication and Boundaries

The cornerstone rule for living together while separated or waiting for a Final Divorce Decree is maintaining open communication with your partner and defining boundaries. In fact, it’s not just a recommendation but a lifeline, adhering to which you can turn a hostile situation into a more manageable, respectful, and comfortable coexistence.

Communication is paramount during a divorce process. When people have split up but are forced to live together for some time, they should talk to each other to reach decisions on navigating the common space, taking care of children, dividing finances, and more. However, the readiness to communicate isn’t enough. Airing your thoughts and worries openly is crucial. When two adults can honestly discuss their needs and concerns related to marriage dissolution, they have better chances to go through this process more amicably.

If you don’t know how to start and maintain an open talk with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, you can try these strategies:

  • Opt for written communication first and then move to face-to-face discussions;
  • Schedule your meetings using a Google Calendar or any app you like;
  • Choose a place where you both feel at ease;
  • Use ice-breaking phrases like “How are you doing?”, “I heard/saw … and thought we could discuss…”, etc.;
  • Choose I-statements when expressing your feelings and concerns so as not to sound accusatory;
  • Stick to a respectful tone;
  • Be an active listener;
  • Use “When… then” statements to foster shared decision-making, e.g., “When we decide on parenting time, then we can make a schedule”;
  • Seek professional counseling if you can’t arrange a conversation on your own.

Establishing understandable boundaries is also important for people living together during divorce. You can perceive such confines as road signs when navigating a divorce process. We recommend dividing the boundaries into such groups:

  • Physical space boundaries. Having no contact when you live together is rather difficult. Anyway, if you manage to arrange separate living spaces and define how you will use the shared areas like a kitchen, bathroom, etc., you can minimize the contact.
  • Communication boundaries. Set time for discussions and define stop words to halt hostile debates immediately.
  • Financial boundaries. Determine clear financial responsibilities and obligations, e.g., who will pay electricity bills, etc.
  • Child-related boundaries. Define who, where, and when will spend time with kids.
  • Social boundaries. Clarify whether it’s OK or not to date other people and/or bring new partners to your house.
  • Property and possession boundaries. Agree on how to use joint property.

Divide Responsibilities and Finances

Navigating divorce and living together may be easier if each party understands their responsibilities concerning household and finances. The best way is to begin with a detailed list of the chores for each spouse. Be as meticulous as possible. For instance, you can clarify the following:

  • Who will clean specific joint areas in the house, and how often?
  • How to take care of children?
  • How to manage pet-related tasks?
  • Who will be responsible for house repairs?
  • Who will be in charge of yard weeding, mowing, etc.?

The list can be as long as you need. Remember that when you comprehensively describe what each party is responsible for, it will be possible to reduce or even avoid conflicts altogether. Besides, it’s worth trying to divide tasks in accordance with each spouse’s preferences, strengths, and availability. Of course, doing that is possible only when parties are ready for an open and friendly discussion.

As for finances, you should establish individual budgets in the first place. When you are divorced but living together, benefits of such cohabitation can be rather unexpected, and your separate budget is one of them. Indeed, you no longer need to contribute to a joint account and can enjoy independence when spending money on personal needs, entertainment, hobbies, etc. Thus, your partner will have no right to criticize your spending habits.

However, since cohabitation during divorce implies you’ll have some shared expenses, you must allocate funds to pay for rent, bills, services, and more. Of course, it is fair for spouses to share expenses equally. Nevertheless, the discrepancy in each party’s earnings can be huge. So, if that suits you both, you may opt for proportional payments based on your income.

Moreover, you may want to create an emergency fund. You and your spouse need to contribute to it at definite periods, like once a week/2 weeks, for example. The main mission of this fund is to serve as a financial buffer. If anything unexpected happens to your joint property, e.g., a car, you can use the money straight away. If you don’t spend this money during a divorce, you can split it equally once your marriage is terminated.

If you can’t agree on managing finances, it makes sense to reach out to a financial advisor. An expert will recommend possible tactics that may work in your particular situation.

Create Separate Spaces

Do divorced couples still sleep together? Some spouses do, while others disdain this idea. It is usually rather painful to be around a person you used to be close with but are parting ways currently. So, arranging specific personal areas to reduce negative feelings when divorced but living together in your family house is important. Of course, the best alternative is when each spouse can have a separate room. If it isn’t possible in your case, you can try alternative methods:

  • Rearrange furniture. If there is a spacious common room, you can divide it into separate living areas by relocating furniture. For instance, you can use bookshelves or large plants to mark the border between your parts.
  • Take advantage of room dividers. You can purchase purpose-made room dividers or folding screens to make distinctive sections within one shared room.

Allocating storage spaces is also very important so your personal belongings aren’t kept on the same shelves or drawers. Any item can spike memories from the previous life when you were one unit, which can be extremely distressing, so do everything possible to avoid suffering.

If you spend time in the shared entertainment area in the house but want to distance yourself from a partner, you can use headphones. These gadgets are particularly advantageous when any of you listens to podcasts or watches videos or TV shows. Still, scheduling your presence in the shared rooms would be even better.

You may be tempted to get closer to your ex-spouse by talking about something personal, spending time together, or even going further and getting intimate. If there is no prospect of reconciliation, you are likely to regret such a move. Firstly, it won’t bring you together. Secondly, intimacy during the divorce process may prolong your marriage dissolution. For instance, in Wisconsin or Georgia, sexual intimacy can complicate divorce because the judge may doubt that a marriage is irretrievably broken.

Seek Emotional Support Outside the Home

Many couples that have to live together during divorce say it’s tough. Partners may be in the grip of emotions, and when tension escalates, finding ways to cope with the situation constructively is crucial. Since the family house is usually associated with a former happy relationship, while now it’s a battleground, you should search for support outside.

Some people feel embarrassed to ask for assistance to deal with the stress of divorce. Spouses may be afraid to talk about difficulties they are experiencing or reveal their genuine emotions, which may range from anger, anxiety, and grief to frustration, confusion, and guilt. Remember that there are no shameful emotions. However, silencing your worries is too harmful for your mental state.

To get emotional support for divorce from outside, you first need to decide whom you’d like to talk to:

  • Friends

By sharing your thoughts and worries with friends, you can prevent the feeling of loneliness, which may arise when your partner is no longer emotionally connected with you. Good friends will give you the needed comfort, support, and safe space to discuss disturbing topics. Most importantly, you can express your thoughts without being judged.

Besides, when talking to mates outside your home, you can distract yourself from divorce-related matters. Such a respite is very beneficial for your well-being. In addition to conversations, you can also engage in team sports or other activities that bring joy and laughter.

  • Family

Unconditional love of family members can be a powerful tool for overcoming the turbulence of divorce. Your relatives know your genuine self and history, so they may provide the support you need at that particular period.

Moreover, in times of crisis, family members become your reliable allies. In addition to emotional comfort, they can offer practical help, like lending money, transporting your stuff, taking care of children, etc.

  • Professionals

If you’ve talked to your friends and relatives but need more down-to-earth guidelines on what to do when going through a divorce, you can address therapists and counselors who specialize in divorce matters. Such people are trained to guide clients through the emotional challenges of divorce and can suggest working strategies to cope with various situations.

Besides, it may be easier for you to discuss some sensitive topics with experts rather than close people. Everything you tell them is kept confidential.

Establish a Co-Parenting Plan

Some spouses opt for living together after divorce for children. It may seem like a mature decision to preserve customary routines and help kids adapt to changes step by step, but it is better to stick to this plan for a specific period, not permanently. While the effects of divorce on children can be truly severe, it is better to explain the situation to kids so as not to confuse them. The best way to settle things down is to create a detailed co-parenting plan. You can use our recommendations:

  • Prioritize the child’s well-being. Keep your kids’ best interests at the forefront of all decisions.
  • Have open and respectful communication with an ex. Discuss all important aspects with a partner. Don’t involve children in your adult conversations, but ask them about their preferences if they are old enough to decide.
  • Develop a schedule. Define how much private time each of you will spend with kids, who will take them to and from school, etc.
  • Be flexible and open to modification. Co-parenting in the same house requires parents to adapt to unexpected conditions without conflicts.
  • Clearly outline how you’ll make decisions regarding education and medical care.
  • Schedule routine family meetings to discuss any concerns or changes in the co-parenting living together

In general, divorced parents living together may face lots of challenges. Nevertheless, if they communicate effectively, are clear and consistent, stay flexible, and keep the focus on the kids, everybody in the family may feel relatively satisfied.

Practice Self-Care and Emotional Well-Being

Divorce is emotionally draining. Taking care of yourself when you are divorced but still living together isn’t selfish. It’s survival. When you’re emotionally well, you can handle the challenges more efficiently.

When we talk about self-care during divorce, we don’t mean grand gestures. You can start with little things. For example, you can take a walk in a nearby park, read a good book, or drink a cup of hot cocoa in a cozy café. These small acts of self-love can make a big difference in how you navigate a divorce process.

Besides, it is highly advisable to move. Exercising isn’t just about physical health; it also benefits mental well-being. You can choose a brisk walk, a yoga session, training in the gym, or anything that works for you. Exercise releases endorphins, which naturally boost mood.

Another method of how to handle divorce stress is to practice mindfulness. Take a few minutes each day to breathe and be present in the moment. You can try meditation, deep breathing exercises, or simply focusing on the sensations around you.

If you feel that depression during the divorce process is too heavy to manage on your own, consider counseling or therapy. You can also become a member of a community where participants are going through the same life difficulties. You can listen to each other and provide the needed support.

Remember that divorce and mental health issues are nothing to be shy about. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Plan for the Future

Divorce is a transition, not the end. So, it is OK to start thinking about how to live after divorce and set the groundwork for a fresh start. Use these recommendations to get ready for a new life:

  • Find a living place. Search for the options available. You can rent a flat, stay with friends or relatives for some time, etc. The main thing here is to have a plan to move from your joint house.
  • Begin saving money. If you are going to rent a flat, you need to allocate money to cover the expenses. Besides, if you are the one to pay child support and alimony, you need to manage your finances prudently.
  • Set realistic timelines. It takes time to adapt to the post-divorce life and fulfill different tasks. Be easy on yourself and don’t rush.
  • Prepare emotionally. Dealing with divorce anxiety is as important as practical planning. Acknowledge the upcoming changes and allow yourself to accept them at your own pace. If you can’t cope with the spectrum of emotions yourself, ask people you can trust for help. When you are emotionally stable, you will have a smoother transition to a new life.
  • Explore promising opportunities. Devote time to hobbies, career paths, or educational possibilities. The post-divorce future isn’t just about overcoming the challenges but taking the most out of new chances.