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Cohabiting With Your Ex After You Split 

Cohabiting With Your Ex After You Split 

Family Law Attorney

The rising costs of rent — and an impossible housing market. The ongoing pandemic. A lack of childcare. 

There are many reasons why couples who have separated, or are thinking of divorce, would wind up staying together, at least temporarily (be that temporarily long-term or short-term). As a recent New York Times article titled ‘Separated But Under the Same Roof’ explained, it actually may be more common than we think (the subject was also humorously explored in the 2006 rom-com The Break-Up, though without the messy stakes of marriage, divorce and children). 

So, if you decide to make this living arrangement a reality— cohabiting with your ex even after you’ve both ended the romantic part of your relationship— here are a few tips from our friends at Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich, O’Cathain & O’Cathian, LLC on how to make it truly work (with a minimum of tears): 

  • Set the ground rules immediately. The most important aspect of staying in the same domicile after you’ve romantically separated is being on the same page as to what is and is not permissible. First and foremost, of course, this goes for any sexual or romantic engagement: if you’re living with someone you used to be romantically involved with, there’s a decent chance someone in the relationship — you or your former partner may — whether completely sober or after a drink or two — want to get back together (this could be for an evening, or in general). Therefore, before deciding upon this arrangement, it’s best to sit down with your housemate, be honest about your feelings, and lay out some ground rules. It will be cleaner for everyone involved in the long run.

  • Be understanding. The above advice, of course, applies to a lot of issues that are less sensitive than romance and sex, but when laying out ground rules about smaller stakes issues — be it washing the dishes, paying for takeout, or doing the laundry — it’s both important to be honest and up-front, but also to be understanding — in fact, even forgiving. Dishes sometimes don’t get done, laundry piles up and all the millennial household tasks that used to bug you when you were married now bug you even more. Be understanding — this week it may be your partner who’s not pulling their weight, but next week it may be you. In other words: don’t sweat the small stuff.

  • Decide how much you’re going to tell the children together. How honest or realistic you decide to be with your children is entirely up to you and your co-parent. The most important thing, though, is to make this decision together: to take the time to sit and talk with each other, to honor your co-parent’s ideas by hearing them out even when they disagree with yours, and to come to a mutual understanding. Then, it’s best to tell your children about this arrangement — and what it portends for the future — together. Make sure you’ve taken the time to think about answers to the questions they will inevitably have. Finally, of course, if you do wind up telling your child(ren) something different in the heat of the moment, be sure to be honest with your co-parent so they can get back on the same page with your children. 

More and more separating and/or divorcing couples are now living in the same home, out of necessity or choice. If you think this may be right for your situation — or if you’re already doing so— follow these guidelines and don’t hesitate to contact a family law attorney.