Because of the current economic environment, over the past few years I have started to see a lot of couples who want to stay together in the home after they are separated or divorced because they can’t afford to live separately. Unfortunately, my experience with this arrangement has shown that it is very difficult and only works sometimes.
If you and your soon to be ex-spouse do decide to live together after your separation/divorce, there are a number of decisions that must be made.
- How are you going to pay for expenses in the house?
- What percentage should each of you pay?
- What if one of you decides to get re-married?
- What if one of you wants to move out sooner than anticipated?
- If you start to date others how will this affect your ability to live together with your ex-spouse?
- What if you don’t agree on when the house should be sold and who determines the selling price?
These are only a couple of the reasons that your initial plan may not look so good several months after you make it.
I have had a number of couples that wanted language in their settlement agreement that says they will keep the house for 1 to 5 years and are going to live together in the house after separation and divorce. On paper it looks workable, but most of them eventually call and need to change the agreement because they are starting to date other people and things are getting complicated or some of the reasons they got divorced in the first place are making it too difficult to live together in the same home. They now want to come in and settle post-divorce issues that might have been avoided with better planning.
Based on my experience, I have an in-depth discussion with couples who indicate they want to go this direction before drafting their Agreements. I explain what other couples in their position have experienced. I discuss the pitfalls of living together for extended periods of time after separation and divorce such as agreeing that one of you will pay for all of the expenses on the house until sold with no specified end date or locking yourselves into not selling unless a certain sale price can be realized.
The information I pass along will be helpful as a couple works out the terms of their separation settlement agreement. The goal is to come up with a plan that will work right from the start as well as in the future. It makes sense to base the agreement on what you and your spouse want, taking into consideration the results of other couples’ experiences which may have succeeded or failed.
At Your Divorce Mediator.com, your separation/divorce agreement is not just a calculation of how to split up the assets and debt. It is creating an agreement with language that addresses all of the issues that are important to you as well as the required statutory language and avoiding decisions that could potentially cause you problems as you move forward with your lives. This plan is a road map to your future, so let’s work to ensure that it has as few potholes as possible.