Choosing who remains in the marital home during a divorce can be challenging. It’s often a couple’s most valuable asset and there is a great deal of emotional attachment as well. With this in mind, you may both want to stay in the home until your divorce is finalized. Would a divorce attorney condone this decision, and is it legally permissible? Read further for more information.
Ask a Divorce Attorney: Should Spouses Live in the Same House During Divorce?
Unfortunately, this question cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. Rather, your lawyer will review your unique situation and determine if it’s best for you to leave or stay in the marital home.
Texas law does not require couples to live apart during divorce proceedings. Some couples indeed continue to live together for a number of reasons, including the desire to save money. Likewise, parents can ease the transition for children by continuing to remain under the same roof. Living together also provides time for you and your spouse to:
- Create a co-parenting plan
- Make custody arrangements
- Choose whether to keep or sell the marital home
- Divide assets, including financial resources
Despite the potential for positive outcomes, continuing to live with a spouse during divorce can be difficult. A Texas judge will not sign your divorce decree for at least 60 days after your petition is filed. This “cooling off” period can be waived only if your case involves domestic violence. If you are the victim of abuse, you and your children must immediately leave the marital home. Your divorce attorney may also advise you to apply for a protective order.
With that said, you should expect your divorce to take longer than a mere 60 days; some last up to a year as valuable assets must be divided. During this time, emotions are likely to escalate as you or your spouse becomes increasingly distant from the family. You’re thus at greater risk for arguments, especially if one of you begins a new romantic relationship.
Take the Necessary Precautions
If you find that moving out is necessary, you must protect your interests. First and foremost, you will need to obtain a temporary court order that establishes parenting arrangements. This dispels the notion that by leaving you’re abandoning your children. It also shows the court that you plan to remain involved in your children’s lives.
Putting Rumors to Rest
Contrary to popular belief, leaving your home does not mean your spouse will receive it in the divorce. All marital, or communal, property will be divided equally or in accordance with a prenuptial agreement.
If you have children, the parent awarded primary custody will likely keep the house and, to ensure as much impartiality as possible, the other parent may receive possessions that equal a similar monetary value. If you don’t have children, the home might be ordered sold and the sale proceeds divided equally.
Tips for Cohabitation During Divorce
If you and your spouse choose to cohabitate, you should create your own living space within the marital home. One of you should move into a separate bedroom to ensure your private business remains private. This also provides you with a personal retreat where you can practice self-care or simply be alone.
You must also establish ground rules that will help form the foundation of the divorce. For example, don’t engage in public pretenses by arriving at functions together or continuing to wear your wedding rings. Likewise, don’t go out on dates, unless you plan to reconcile, and avoid activities as a family. Going to the park with your spouse and children will only confuse your kids and make the separation harder.
Build a Parenting Schedule
Because you and your spouse will now see the children individually, you need a parenting schedule that grants specific days to each of you. Before you embark on this new journey, however, the two of you should explain the divorce to your children.
Use a gentler approach with young children but keep in mind that older children must also be treated with sensitivity. Discussing the divorce and then spending time with your children individually helps reinforce the reality of the separation while making it easier to digest.
Keep This Living Arrangement Brief
The more you extend the cohabitation period, the harder it will be to separate. Your children may have an especially difficult time if they hear you’re getting a divorce but sense little change in the family dynamic. You should therefore plan to live with your spouse for only a brief time. If you find it difficult to leave, we recommend you speak with a top divorce lawyer in Houston. They may have helpful suggestions to help you make the right decision.
Staying in the marital home until your divorce is finalized can be beneficial. You and your spouse will likely save money, and you can use that time to ease into separate lifestyles. However, this option is off the table if you’re a victim of domestic violence. Likewise, continuing to live together requires some ground rules, including separate sleeping spaces, a mutually beneficial parenting schedule, and a limit to your cohabitation arrangement.