Living in the Same House after Divorce

Parent Q&A

  • Hello, 

    My partner and I are not married but have been together over 15yrs., own a home together and have an 11yr. old son. Our relationship has never been really great - at least from my end of the experience. He's a hard worker, good dad and a generally good person BUT with issues that have deeply affected our bond/trust/intimacy. His verbal abuse has soured the waters for me. Even after 2 years of couples therapy (which ended 5 yrs ago because he agreed to individual therapy but then never went), not enough has changed for me to see us ever being/feeling close. The daily borage of name calling and angry rages for no apparent reason have been greatly reduced but things are still said and done that make me feel that he really doesn't know or care to know the real me despite my herculean efforts to be clear and share my emotions. I'm just tired and really lonely. Our sex life has never been satisfying - I've been responsible for my own orgasims for the entire duration of our relationship. I'm just done. At this point, he would like to stay together and 'work on' the relationship (basically do the things that we were supposed to have done when we were in therapy but rarely did). We ironically make a good team when it comes to money and parenting...but lovers we are not. 

    I want to know how/if people have uncoupled without a lot of drama.  We have an apartment in the lower half of our home - currently occupied. I work from home and am the main caregiver/household manager. I want to stay in the home as a way to make it easy for our son. I thought of moving to the lower unit and he and his dad stay upstairs. I have not been able to sell this idea to partner as of yet.

    We worked really hard to get this house and have financial stability. It's hard to walk away from that and pay 2k-3k for a decent place on my freelancer/unpredictable income. I want what is best for my son but can't live like this anymore.

    Have you ever had this living situation work? If so, how and for how long? What boundaries did you set for caretaking/money.etc.  Was there another solution that worked better? I'd love to hear some ideas on creative solutions as bay area living has become so damn expensive. My heart aches for more and I need to move on. Tell me about how you creatively uncoupled. Thanks.

    Your situation is remarkable similar to mine 8 years ago. We'd been married for 11 years, together for 14, and he was verbally abusive. My daughter was 6 when we finally split. We owned a duplex, and the lower unit was vacant when the straw fell that broke the camels back. I moved into the lower unit and am still there 8 years later (the divorce came 2 years after the separation). Once my ex and I had a situation where we could retreat to our separate units when things got heated, it got much easier to deal with him (and him me, I think). In our case the two units in the building were very similar, other than one having three small bedrooms and the other having two larger ones. She has a bedroom in each apartment (getting a separate bedroom was one of the few perks of the divorce at the time). My daughter, now in high school, seems to think that it was a good setup. No issues with forgetting something at the other parent's house, she just runs upstairs or downstairs to grab it. We still have, and abide by, a custody schedule, but she'll pop by occasionally on day's she's with her dad to pet the cats or grab something.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Living Separately in the Same House?

April 2016

My spouse of 28 years and I have decided to separate. We are very amicable and intend to keep it that way. We cannot divorce just yet as his business is undergoing changes and we have debts to settle. We want one or the other of us to ultimately keep the house, as we want our two grown children to be able to inherit it. Having said that, we intend to both stay in our home for now, as we have a way to create separate spaces/entrances. Eventually we will need to figure it out (two years down the line, at least). I would like recent recommendations for a mediator (is it too early for this given our timeline?) in the Berkeley area. Hopefully someone who has helped couples through such an arrangement. I am not sure if it is too soon to do this, since this starts the divorce process, I assume, and we are not there yet - again, mostly for financial reasons. If there are folks out there that have lived under such an arrangement and have advice, please feel free to email me directly. Would love to email/chat further.

Under a recent decision of the California Supreme Court (In re Marriage of Davis (2015) 61 Cal.4th 846), continuing to share the same residence after you have separated (or think you have) can have significant financial consequences. I strongly recommend you consult an attorney before deciding on this approach.

Living together after divorce?

August 2003

OK. I need advice from anyone who has filed for divorce and lived under the same roof together. Our finances are too strained to have two houses, we both work and have three children. My husband can't handle marriage. It sounds strange, but we're considering this to clean up finances and responsibilities.

My ex- and I lived in the same house for over a year after we seperated. We had the advantage of having what amounted to a studio apartment in the basement of our house, which I moved into - my own entrance, kitchen, bath. We split custody of our son, and in general, it worked fine. For us. In that house. Your Mileage May Vary.

The main predictor of emotional health for the children of divorce is low levels of parental conflict. If you can keep your relationship with your spouse civil, go for it. Otherwise, I hope you think of your offspring and their needs before your own, and do what you gotta do to keep their lives livable. Been There, Done That

My ex-husband and I did this for a year and a half after we separated. We also have three kids, and in an odd way I think it helped the transition from one big family to two homes with separated parents. The key is to set down the rules early for who pays for what etc. My ex, for instance, never bought one roll of toilet paper the entire time he lived here, nor did he clean the bathroom or kitchen, both of which he used. Our situation was financially complicated (and still is) but we managed the arrangement until he met his current girlfriend (who lives far away and needed to be able to visit him in his home). This brings up another question for you: what happens when you fall in love again?

IF you are able to set down ground rules the way you would with roommates, if you are able to separate the finances, arrange the billpaying, grocery shopping etc, if you have the space so that you won't be in a negative environment which would make it worse for the kids, I think it is totally workable, at least in the short term. If paying off outstanding debt from the marriage is part of the plan, put it on paper, though. In fact, I'd find a notary or an attorney and put the whole arrangement on paper the way you would with any legal lease type arrangement. Good luck. Karin

Living together after a divorce could be perfectly reasonable depending on the reason for the divorce. If you are getting divorced because he constantly yelled at you, and he continues to yell at you, then it is not a good idea. But if you are getting divorced because he was stepping out on you, but you don't mind now that you are divorced, then living together could work fine. You aren't the only one doing this. There was a show on tv about it a couple of years ago. anon

Hi, you didn't give a lot of specifics so I'm not sure if you're planning this as a long-term thing or just until you get your finances on more solid footing. My sister and her ex-husband divorced 2.5 years ago and still live under the same roof. No kids, the divorce was amicable, but like your husband he couldn't ''handle marriage.'' The biggest problem for them (if you call it one) is the rest of the world: neighbors, friends who want to pick sides or just think it's too weird, potential dates, etc. Sure, there are days when she just wishes he'd move out, but then she remembers the money thing. Good luck with your arrangement, and be ready for the neighbors to squawk when you bring home a date!

You know, I consider my husband to play three important roles in my life- husband, father to my child, best friend. There are times when I think he sucks at the first, but my friendship and admiration of his desire to be the best father he never had, always makes me overlook his faults as a husband. I hope, and not that I want it to happen or plan for it, that if anything were to go wrong between us, we can remain close friends for the sake of our children and our friendship. Too much has happened between us and we've grown up together (we're high school- college sweethearts) that losing his friendship because of our inability to live together as a married couple would be unbearable. Of course I say this now. Who knows how I would feel if I were in your situation.

I always tell my friends. Do what you think is right for YOU. Regardless of what everyone else thinks or says, do what you feel is best for your well being and that of your family, and know that I am with you every step of the way. Make the decision that best works out for you, and lean on those close to you to help you through the bumps. Generally, your first instincts is best. Good luck. Best Friends

My ex and I moved back in together for a year after having lived apart for 6 months. It definitely helped for sorting out finances and responsibilities, but we were still unable to get along. We went back and forth on ''working it out'' and ''being just housemates''. Finally after a particularly bad fight regarding a phone call, he got his own place. 2 months later he wanted to try again, 2 months after that he gave up for good, and now I wish I'd been smarter and really made an effort to get along. Oh well, the positive thing is that we now both have our finances in order and responsibilities are well defined. My advice is if you are going to do this, to really commit to tolerating what you don't like about each other and get along for the sake of your kids, while still being clear that you're not ''together'' -- that is definitely my biggest regret. done that...

After my divorce, I became involved with my best friend and we moved in together. The romance didn't work out, but . . . the friendship wasn't permanently damaged and we're pretty good coparents for my son, so we decided to try to continue living together. It's been nearly two years, and it's worked out pretty well (besides being more cost-effective!). The only thing is, if we hadn't been able to maintain our friendship, it would never have been possible. anon

Hi, just my two cents on this. I think that if you get along OK and won't fight so much that you feel uncomfortable and of course YOU want to it would be great for your kid(s) My parents divoriced when I was six and I know that this would have made it much easier. My advice would be yes, if you want to. anon