More than half of American households have two incomes, and the prospects of a divorce and supporting yourself, a whole household, on one income can be very frightening. In fact, many people, while together enjoying two incomes, still struggle to support one household. So, this can be a very difficult time and a very difficult thing to think about and understand. I want to help you understand how it’s possible to go through a divorce while living under the same roof as your spouse. It’s not the ideal situation, it’s possible. So let me give you 5 pointers for doing that.
The first is to accept that you are divorcing and to practice being single. You know the standard for divorce is that your marriage is irretrievably broken. Somebody’s taking the step, either you or your spouse to start that process, and the burden to prove your marriage is irretrievably broken is a very small burden. So, accepting that fact and in your mind, mentally and emotionally beginning to move on is an important step in making it possible to stay under the same house. The other part of that is practice being single. For years, you perhaps cooked, cleaned, done laundry, stop, or at least stop for your spouse who’s divorcing you, but just do It for yourself. There are all kinds of things that you’ve done perhaps for years as a married couple, and you’ve got to begin the process of reprogramming your brain and your actions to act as a single person.
The second thing I want to tell you is to quit acting like a spouse. That’s doing the laundry, that’s the cooking. I can tell you that I’ve had cases where my client and their spouse continue to live in the same household and my client was terribly frustrated by that, that the spouse would not leave. I later found out that she was still cooking and doing his laundry, I had to ask her, why would he leave? So, stop acting like a spouse when you’re staying in the same household through a divorce.
Third, avoid your spouse physically if possible, and avoid any fights. Now, that doesn’t mean always avoid contact and communication with your spouse. If you have a healthy relationship and healthy communication with your spouse, that is you’re sitting down like clear headed adults and working through the terms for your divorce. I encourage you to sit down and do that because that can help keep the costs down and the time to get your divorce to a minimum. That’s not usually the case when people are living in the same house. They’re having encounters and discussions that revolve around blame and fault and other things like perhaps the co-living arrangement that is going on, like you left your socks on the floor. Try to avoid interactions unless they’re productive interactions towards resolving your divorce case.
Fourth, don’t be jealous or at least don’t show it. You’re in a divorce. You and your spouse are going to take on and lead new lives in different directions. It’s quite possible that your spouse is going out, your spouse is starting another relationship, your spouse is having texts and calls with people that would not have been appropriate in your marriage. That is likely to be going on, and because you’re living together, you are very likely to witness that. Don’t let it get to you, and if it does get to you, don’t let it show. This really goes back to the #3, which is avoiding contact with your spouse and avoiding fighting. If jealousy seeps in and you let it show, you are invariably going to end up in some level of altercation, verbal altercation, hopefully nothing physical. So, just try to avoid being jealous and like I said, certainly don’t show it if you are.
And lastly, keep your mouth shut. You don’t have to tell your spouse what you’re doing, where you’re going, and certainly if you have an attorney. You don’t want to share things that your attorney has said to you or any strategies that you’ve been working on with your lawyer as you’re pursuing this divorce and living in the same household as your spouse, so keep your mouth shut. Many times, people think, well, I’m going to tell my spouse this because then they’re going to get afraid or then they’re going to concede or they’re going to move out. That almost never happens, and it usually backfires. So, practice keeping your distance and keeping your mouth shut.
Now living under the same roof during your divorce is not an ideal situation, and if it can be avoided, that is usually the preferred way to go about it, but it is doable if you follow these suggestions. Depending on your circumstances and your situation, you may not have to do this. You may be entitled to support from your spouse that will allow you to supplement your own income and pay for your own living arrangements, separate and apart from your spouse. That is very circumstance dependent and everybody’s circumstances are different. Yours would have to be evaluated carefully to see whether you might be entitled to get that supplemental support to allow you to move out and get housing of your own. Now if you have any other questions about divorce law or other legal topics, please drop them in the comments.