You’re ready for your marriage to be over, but you’re not necessarily ready to move out of the marital home.
Unlike many other states, Florida doesn’t have any mandatory requirements for couples to live “separate and apart” prior to their divorce, so many couples choose to cohabitate in a kind of “roommate” situation for a while even after they’ve filed for divorce. There are several good reasons for this.
Sometimes, both spouses are concerned that leaving will weaken their position when it comes to shared parenting time or the division of property. Other times, it’s cost-prohibitive for one party to move out until the house is sold or the party who intends to move has enough money saved up.
So, how do you manage to keep the peace when you’re already breaking up? Here are some tips:
Be proactive about boundaries
Essentially, living together effectively after the divorce process begins requires some new agreements about boundaries – and the willingness on both sides to observe them. This can mean having a few frank discussions about things like:
- The sleeping arrangements: You need different sleeping quarters so that you both have your own space. One of you needs to take over the office, the spare bedroom or even the finished basement until you’re able to find or afford new housing.
- The household bills: Generally speaking, you both need to maintain the “status quo” and make sure the household bills are paid. Work out an agreement about how the bills will be divided and when each person’s contribution is due. Keep all your other finances separate.
- The division of labor: It’s wise to make it clear that each person cooks their own food and cleans up after themselves, does their own laundry and so on. However, household tasks, like cleaning the bathroom or mowing the lawn, should be divided fairly.
- The use of shared space: Being around each other is probably uncomfortable, so make a schedule that will allow both of you to use the kitchen, living room and other common areas without intruding on the other (as much as possible).
There are other things that you may need to discuss, but it’s most important to get some experienced legal guidance to help you figure out your next move.