The process of getting divorced looks different for every family. While you will have certain legal obligations (meeting deadlines, etc.) over the course of the process, you have a number of options regarding your living situation. Choosing what kind of living situation works best for you and your family largely depends on your family dynamic, your current living situation, and your family’s financial bandwidth. The divorce process can last anywhere from months to around a year, so it is important to understand that the decision that you make regarding your living situation may last for a while.
While it is generally not suitable for families going through a high-conflict divorce, some couples choose to continue to live together while they go through the divorce process. People who choose to cohabitate generally do so either for financial reasons, or because they feel that their family needs a slower transition to two separate households.
For example, if you and your spouse have chosen to wait to discuss the divorce with your children, it may make sense to continue to cohabitate for a while. Likewise, if you are a single-income household, or if finances are tight, it may not make sense for your family to incur the added expense of rent or a second mortgage, until you have a clearer picture of what the division of marital assets and any maintenance and/or child support payments will be.
Sometimes, families choose to do what divorce professionals call “nesting” in order to ease the transition to separate households for their children. The term “nesting” refers to an arrangement where the children live in one home 100% of the time, but the parents take turns living in the home with the children. This kind of arrangement enables the parents to live separate lives, without uprooting the children.
This is generally most feasible when the family owns a second home, has a substantial support network that allows them to stay with friends or family when it is not their parenting time, or if they can afford to rent their own or one shared space(s), while maintaining the marital residence.
Most frequently, when people are going through a divorce, people choose to live apart from one another. Doing so can minimize the conflict that led to the divorce in the first place. Some important things that you need to consider, before you separate are:
• If you have children, what should temporary parenting time look like?
• Who is responsible for bills and expenses?
• Does one spouse require spousal support (alimony/ maintenance) and/or child support in order for the two of you to live apart?
• Are you going to share joint accounts and credit cards?
• Is the place you want to move to far away from the other spouse? If so, will the distance between the two of you limit your options regarding parenting time?
While choosing to live apart is most common during divorce, it can also lead to significant complications and additional conflict. For example, if you do not reach agreements with your ex-spouse about parenting time or who will assume responsibility for different expenses, you risk harm to your credit (if there is confusion about who should pay certain bills), you risk financial isolation (if you need but are not receiving support from the other spouse), and you risk one parent withholding the child(ren) from the other parent. While your attorney can request Temporary Orders from the court, it can take months before you can get in front of a judge to resolve these types of issues.
Sometimes, parties who anticipate that each will have sufficient funds to own separate homes, choose to purchase property before the divorce is finalized instead of renting. It is important that you speak with an attorney before you make any moves to purchase a new property during your divorce, as it can have a significant impact on your case.
If you are in a situation where your own safety and/or for the safety of your children is/are at risk, you should always prioritize the safety of you and your children over anything else. If you feel that you and/or your family are in danger, do not hesitate to take whatever steps you need to in order to ensure that you/ they are not risk of harm. The rest can be sorted out through the courts. Please Call 9-1-1 if you are concerned for your immediate safety.
If you are considering getting a divorce, our seasoned team of Family Law experts at GEM Family Law are here to support you through this process and can help you explore what options work best for you and your family. Schedule your free initial consultation today by calling our main office line at 720-443-4892.
Authored by: Ashley G. Emerson, Esq., Partner