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Parents Talk: Living Together After Divorce

Due to finances and shared resources, some divorced parents continue to live together. What would you do?

Divorce happens. A lot.

Statistics tell us that the rate remains steady at around 50 percent of American marriages ending in divorce.

We are accustomed to the “I-hate-you-I’m-moving-out-now” divorce. Then the stereotypical court battle to win the kids, the house, the money and the wedding China that has never been opened ensues.

While not a new idea, more and more divorced or separated couples are choosing to remain living together, usually due to finances. Divorced couples generally share a house, home furnishings, vehicles, and most importantly, children. Maybe it's just easier to stay together, for now.

Are cohabitating ex-wed parents the new cohabitating un-wed parents?

A writer going by “rebootingnow” on the web forum Talk About Marriage illustrates this idea:

“My wife and I have mutually decided that we don't want to work on our marriage relationship anymore. We don't have a toxic relationship, but after 10 years of a stressful marriage there isn't really an “us” anymore outside of our two elementary aged children.

Since we can't afford to live separately right now, we're planning on living together with the children. For many years I have slept in a different bedroom for various reasons, and we've never fought in front of the children. From their perspective things haven't changed.

My general plan is we'd cohabitate until we're in a better position financially to have two separate dwellings…”

Jacqueline Harounian, a partner and divorce attorney with the Law Firm of Wisselman, Harounian & Associates in Long Island writes in a Huffington Post blog that she sees this happen all the time.

Divorced but stuck together? Yes, she says.

"The current economy and housing market have led to the unthinkable reality of separated and divorced couples living together for months or even years, because they cannot afford to pay the bills on two separate households, or sell their home, or refinance to effectuate a buyout," Harounian writes.

She adds that like it or not, in this stagnant real estate market and economy, being roommates with your ex is a trend that is here to stay.

Caitlin Burgess (Editor) January 19, 2012 at 09:35 PM
I was really hoping someone would have something to say on this topic. It's extremely interesting. I have a friend who is in this situation and she's been struggling for sanity. Finances are usually the No. 1 thing breaking up marriages, now they are doing that but forcing people to stay under the same roof. Anyone else have any thoughts?
guy davidson January 21, 2012 at 06:02 AM
A friend told me a story years ago..same situation...ex wife comes home from s the bar with a new guy..kicks him out of the bed..to the couch...how sad is that
Clare Kennedy January 23, 2012 at 06:19 AM
That's rough, but I completely understand how it could happen. If you're renting, a lot of leases are air-tight. You either live together or cough up six months of rent immediately.
Hal Pickett January 23, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Hi, I have worked with several couples that have chosen this model for many different reasons, sometimes financial. It works for some and not for others. The key is how well the two adults can live together as friendly roommates and keep the children's well being as the focus. At Headway, Emotional Health Services we teach a course on Co-parenting. This is a difficult job even when you are happily married together. The uncoupled must but their personal opinions aside about their ex-partner and keep the children's best interest at heart. It is really no different than those that have said they have stayed together for the children and then when the children are in college, get a divorce. The pitfall is that adults should not also sacrifice all of their happiness for the co-habitation, or they will be resentful. The key is to create plans with the other parent and trading off time away to be spent with adult friends and other important steps in moving forward. Hal Pickett, Psy.D., LP, Director, Client Services, Headway, Emotional Health Services
rob_h78 January 30, 2012 at 07:25 PM
My ex and I have been living together for seven years now. After the divorce we lived separately and split custody time with our child but after a while we decided that we were not really happy just having our son "half the time" so we decided to get a larger apartment to share so we both get to be with our child "full-time" and we are able to get along fine, actually better than when married. We just have some simple rules - we don't bring anyone we are dating "home", we do "family" activities as our child loves it when we all do things together, and we just try to be cool with each other. The way we look at it is when we chose to have a child we would be putting the child's interests ahead of our own and since we can get along with each other its just the course we have decided to take.

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