Separated Under the Same Roof

by Julia Chun

Sometimes, a speedy trial in divorce does not allow for a speedy change in your living arrangement. Whether you decide that living together is the best option for your children or there are financial restraints, there are formal procedures for cohabitation. To adjust to the formal separation, boundaries should be established in terms of household responsibilities, rules regarding conduct, and communication. Legally, divorced couples are allowed to remain under the same roof in Massachusetts. If you are not married, a cohabitation agreement is recommended, as the law considers unmarried people as those without a relationship. If you have not divided property in the divorce, a cohabitation agreement will designate the division of property and designation of property in case of one partner’s death. Once a written document is created, it is up to the couple to negotiate a living situation. It is important to note that when divorced parties choose to continue living with one another, the amount of alimony and child support will be adjusted to reflect the support provided in cohabitation by the paying party.

Tips for cohabitation during separation include:

  1. Create a new budget for the mortgage and household expenses
  2. Understand and prioritize children’s needs, communicating the situation
  3. Establish physical and emotional boundaries