Oftentimes, living together in the family home during divorce is a financial necessity.
Many families experience this situation known as “nesting”. Let’s face it, you worked hard your entire married lives to secure a home for you and your children. Divorce was never part of the plan. Nonetheless, the divorce is happening. And when it “hits”, it hits hard, and it doesn’t just hit you emotionally. It hits your biggest asset which is, in most cases, your home!
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
To add to the stress, you read online, or your friend or lawyer tells you that there may be consequences, including legal, if you leave the family home, so you’re pretty much stuck! “Should I stay or should I go?” No one but you can answer this extremely difficult question, but if you choose to stay (and many families are OK/safe to stay) while you engage in negotiation / mediation, you need to plan accordingly. What I mean by this is taking the time to actively create a space where your family continues to live unhindered by the impending breakdown of the marriage, as well as developing a plan to safely navigate the unexpected changes you will be facing during this transitory stage.
Needless to say that if you are living under the same roof during mediation, achieving and maintaining a healthy degree of communication may at times, become challenging.
The following guidelines can help you through negotiating while under the same roof
- Unless mutually agreed by both of you in writing or in mediation, neither of you will unilaterally alter the status-quo as it relates to the manner in which family expenses have traditionally been paid.
- Unless mutually agreed by both of you in writing or in mediation, neither of you will make major unilateral changes in terms in parenting (such as changing residence, withholding access to the children, etc.).
- Don’t discuss contentious issues in front of your children. If you sense that a discussion is not courteous, just discontinue the conversation and take the issue up at a different time or in mediation.
- Before and after mediation, allow for a “cool-off” period whereby you will not engage in questioning or harassing each other, especially about sensitive matters discussed in mediation.
- Refrain from any subtle or open denigration of the other parent and/or members of their extended family in any communication with each other and/or with the children and/or in the presence of the children.
- Refrain from any manner of conflict, subtle or open, and, accordingly, relate to one another in a reasonable and cordial manner in all instances in which you interact with each other and/or when the children are present or nearby.
- Refrain from any form of reliance on the children to communicate information between you two.
- Respect the privacy of the other and, as such, refrain from engaging in any discussion or questioning about the other parent’s personal life or activities.
It’s Not Easy!
It won’t always be easy. In fact, sometimes it will be painfully hard. But as long as you and your former spouse (-to-be) continue to share your home, it is prudent to ensure that you respect each other and the changing nature of your relationship. This is a great opportunity to set the tone for your future relationship as co-parents – or blow it for everyone.