Living together during the divorce/separation process is far from ideal, but it is something that many couples are doing for many reasons. Maybe you need the money from the sale of the matrimonial home to afford two residences. Maybe you want to wait until after a special event like a birthday or the holidays to tell your children that one of you is moving out. Whatever the reason it is possible to survive. Here are 5 things to keep in mind that will help you get through this trying time, no matter how impossible it may seem.
Set ground rules
It may seem strange, but you want to look at your ex-spouse as a new roommate. Sit down and set some ground rules about things like where you will be sleeping, what possessions are off limits and who gets the TV when. Another thing to consider is what to do with family meals. Will you be continuing to eat together or, if you have kids, will you alternate days eating with them. Laying out clear living arrangements and boundaries will make sure that that the two of you can successfully cohabitate until one or both of you can get your own place.
Decide what to tell the kids
Don’t kid yourself, if the way you are reacting to your spouse in the home changes your children will notice. They will want to know why daddy is sleeping on the couch or why you aren’t eating meals together anymore. It is important to take into consideration your children’s ages when deciding how to broach this conversation. Whatever you tell them it should be a unified message. Even though you have decided not to continue with your personal partnership it is important to remember you are still co-parents and will still need to communicate with your ex in a way that puts your children first.
Work out financial arrangements
It is important to figure out who will be paying which bills while you are cohabitating. You may decide to keep things status quo or come up with another arrangement, but any changes should be decided upon together and money should never be something that you use to hurt your ex. Having a frank and honest conversation about finances will help mitigate any potential future conflict.
Use a calendar
If you have children scheduling is key. Decide which days/nights each of you are on duty and stick to it. Tools such as www.ourfamilywizard.com are designed to help with co-parenting and can be very useful to make communication more efficient. Advanced planning can be very helpful in avoiding nightly battles like who is in charge of bath time or making dinner for the kids. Predictability and stability are important to maintain for the children throughout the divorce process and using a calendar to create a schedule will help make that a possibility.
Maintaining a respectful and collegial environment at home is one of the most important things you can do if you have to live together through part or all of the divorce/separation process. This can be very difficult when divorce is often by nature adversarial. It is even more important when there are children involved.
Think of your co-parent as a partner on a long-term project. You may not get along with them on a personal level, but you need to remain cordial to see the project through. Being respectful to your co-parent will not only make your living situation more bearable but will model good behaviour for your children which is also very important.
Living together during the divorce/separation process is not easy, but it is possible. If you are having a hard time with it make sure to reach out to family and friends or seek professional help. This is a difficult time, and no one needs to go through it alone.