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Living Arrangements During a Divorce

People often ask me if they have to move out of their house once a divorce is filed.

In  Missouri, there is no law stating that the parties cannot live in the same house, and everyone's situation is different. This will outline some of the different living situations that couples can enter into while their divorce is pending.

Living Separately

This is probably the most common and probably the most desirable, as living with someone you are divorcing is never going to be easy. One spouse moves out of the house and (hopefully) an agreement is reached as to child custody as well as furniture and household goods.

If you have children and think that custody may be an issue, this is a good way to "test drive" a custody schedule before the divorce is finalized.

If you are the parent moving, if at all possible, you should try to find a place fairly close to the other parent to make custody exchanges easier. If you can both be in the same school district that is even better.

A drawback to this situation is cost, as the money that used to support one household will now have to support two. In many situations, people cannot afford to move out and they decide to just stay in the house together until everything can be resolved.

Remaining in the Same House

The decision to stay in the same house while divorcing is usually driven by finances or maybe by your children's situation. If you find yourself in a situation where you have to live with your soon-to-be Ex, you need to establish some ground rules.

  • Decide who gets which bedroom and bathroom and respect the other person's privacy and space.
  • Do not go through your spouse's things or papers when he or she is gone as this will just cause trouble.
  • You may also need some kind of a schedule for the common spaces in the house, like the kitchen, living room, laundry room and TV viewing areas as you are probably not going to want to snuggle on the couch with your spouse and watch a movie, but you may want some time to do that with your kids.
  • You should not, under any circumstances, bring home a date or talk on the phone to anyone you are dating while your spouse or children are around.
  • Remember that your kids will pick up on whatever you are doing. Therefore, staying out all night may not be the best idea.

Nesting

This is a new arrangement, started in areas like New York and California where housing is very expensive. The parents basically have a house for the kids, and the parents take turns living there with the kids. It does make things much more stable for the children as they don't have to go from house to house.

The drawbacks to this solution are that each parent still has to have a place to live while he or she is not at the house, so it can result in greater living expenses for each, unless you have a family member to stay with.

I have seen people have other issues with nesting as well. For example, one parent comes and stays at the house and does not clean before leaving, which leaves the other parent with the burden of cleaning all the time. If there is food at the house, one parent may eat it all without replenishing it. And as with the first option above, one party snoops through the other party's things or paperwork or computer.

Which Post-Split Living Situation Is Right for You?

Whichever option you choose, make sure you discuss it with your attorney and hopefully you can come up with a way to avoid some of the pitfalls before they actually happen.

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