So you’re divorcing, but you’ve decided (or you need) to stay in the same house for a little while.
It may feel impossible to cohabitate with someone who feels like your sworn enemy at the moment, but many people choose this route while they figure their lives out.
Obviously, if there’s abuse going on and you’re not safe to stay in the same home, please don’t.
But outside of abusive situations, it sometimes just makes more sense for parents to live together in the early stages of separation. After all, there’s a lot to sort through. You’ll have to come together to make some major decisions during this time.
Roles and responsibilities.
And who’s keeping the house?!
Just thinking about it can cause a lot of anxiety for even the most amicable of separating parents.
But listen. It really doesn’t have to be pure agony! In fact, your separation time under the same roof can be a truly valuable experience — if you use it wisely.
Here are 4 ways to use this crucial time to gain control of the next chapter of your life:
1. Start co-parenting while separated but living together
Sometimes, the period of separation can take around six months or so. And this extended amount of time gives you an opportunity to get a headstart on building a healthy co-parenting dynamic.
That way, you and your kids won’t be dealing with every. single. change. happening at once when one (or both) of you relocates. One of the first things you should pay attention to is your parenting schedule.
You can actually start implementing shared parenting time during this separation. Go ahead and decide on a weekly schedule. Decide who picks up the kids from school. Figure out who helps with homework on what nights. Make arrangements between the two of you for after-school activities. Rotate evenings out. My ex and I used this time to really dive into our 12-Step meetings.
Figuring all of this out ahead of time will not only provide much-needed space between you and your soon-to-be ex, but it gives your kids a chance to adjust in baby steps while they’re still in a familiar and safe environment.
2. Divide roles and responsibilities
Use this time to also figure out your roles in the family. If you know you’re going to have an equal, shared parenting arrangement when you formally split up, both of you will have a thing or two to learn about each other’s past roles.
For example, you may have always taken on the role of making breakfast and getting the kids to school. You’ve nailed your routine down to the minute. You already know you need to make lunch the night before because it can be tricky to get it done in the morning. But your co-parent may not know this. And when they assume this responsibility on their parenting time, they may have their own way of getting shit done.
When it comes down to it, what really matters most is the fact that your kids’ needs are still being met — no matter which parent is caring for them.
Take the time now to walk your co-parent through your morning routine. Keep the kids’ routine as much the same as possible. Later, the consistency in routines at both houses will be a source of comfort for your children. And you’ll have peace of mind knowing they’ll always have what they need.
And likewise — your coparent has probably always handled specific tasks for your kids, too. Maybe they’re the one who gives the kids a bath at night and tucks them in for bed. Get acquainted with the routine your kids are used to so they have less to adjust to in their new circumstances later on.
3. Achieve financial stability for both of you
Look, divorce can be expensive as hell. LIFE can be expensive as hell. Don’t even get me started on the cost of insurance… sheesh!
Sometimes, separated people may not even have the choice to go their separate ways right away. Are you nodding your head yet?
You may still be grappling with the financial effects of the global pandemic. Or you may be a stay-at-home parent with no personal income to your name.
In those circumstances, living under one roof can provide a sense of financial stability. Even if your relationship didn’t work out, your entire life doesn’t have to feel like it’s in shambles.
When you’re separated while living together, it gives both of you a chance to stand on your own two feet. But first, you’ll need to figure out how you’ll split your current costs. And that means you’ll need to start a new budget.
Decide the specific amount each of you will contribute toward household expenses. If there’s a big gap between your income levels, negotiating will be necessary in order for it to be fair for both of you.
This route can be a much less stressful option for stay-at-home moms. Another bonus of being separated but living in the same house is that with the introduction of shared parenting time, you’ll have the space and time needed to find a job and make an income of your own. You’ll be able to enter the next phase of your life with autonomy and independence.
4. Establish a formal NO fight clause
You’re splitting up for a reason. I’m not going to ignore the fact that tension is likely HIGH in your household. Even when you remove the financial stress of moving out on your own, you’re still left with some pretty intense feelings and issues that may never fully resolve.
Those triggering topics need to be off-limits, especially around your kids. Agree on a list of topics to steer clear of in order to avoid unproductive arguments and fights. I know this is likely new territory for many of you, so I’ve outlined how to create a formal co-parenting agreement in my Ultimate Divorce Starter Kit.
Stick to these boundaries firmly, and your time together can feel a lot less like separation purgatory. This really can be a collaborative time — one where you choose to be guided by reason and clarity (NOT your emotions).
You likely have some pretty big feelings to sort through in order for this kind of thing to work. If you’re struggling, please know you have support.
I’m Kate Anthony, and I specialize in helping women just like you navigate divorce. If you need guidance and clarity during this time, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in my Ultimate Divorce Starter Kit.
But I want you to remember — no matter what, you’ve got this!