Can Separated or Divorced Couples Continue Living Together?

by Yvette in — Updated January 26, 2024 — Reading Time: 9 minutes

Divorce is one of the toughest challenges couples face. Most relationships start with too many promises and are filled with happiness. So, when they fail, it is disappointing.

Although, sometimes, a couple may choose to work through the challenges such as LDR, after countless attempts to solve the issues and restore their relationship, one or both parties ultimately feel tired of bearing the cross.

In that case, a couple may find it wise to end the marriage and start the divorce process. In most cases, the partners separate and lead different lives. However, some are unable to move on separately for various reasons.

Most divorce proceedings are contentious and often filled with bitter feelings. When a married couple ends their relationship on such a note, imagining them living together, even in the same city, is impossible. But not all divorces are bad. Some are so friendly that the spouses decide to continue staying together.

While rare, divorced couples may continue residing together if they have strong practical or financial reasons, obtain legal counsel, and establish clear boundaries.

However, continued cohabitation generally requires compromise and can prolong emotional healing, so couples should carefully weigh these considerations before deciding to keep sharing a home.

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Key Takeaway

  • Divorced or separated couples may continue cohabitating due to financial constraints, logistics with children, cultural stigma around divorce, or difficulty securing new housing.
  • Continued cohabitation requires compromises and clear boundaries around privacy, finances, parenting, chores, and dating to minimize conflicts.
  • Legal counseling is advisable to draft agreements addressing shared living terms and guide divorce proceedings overall.
  • Co-parenting harmoniously and maintaining separate/independent lives under the same roof is essential for successful temporary continued cohabitation.

Overview of the Divorce Process

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Divorce is a long process, and most states have a waiting period. It, therefore, means that a certain set time must pass between the time you file for divorce and the time you finally separate for your marriage to be declared over.

The separation period varies and could be a few weeks or even longer than a year. For instance, Arizona has a 60-day waiting  period, while Wyoming requires 20 days.

During this time, the couple could be formally or informally separated. For formal separation, you live separate lives, and you must write a legal agreement concerning money, support, and custody.

Judging the Grounds for Divorce

Once you are certain you want to move forward with the divorce, you will decide whether your divorce petition will be a fault or no-fault.

Fault divorce is when a person uses their spouse’s wrongdoings to justify their application for divorce. In a no-fault divorce, there are no wrongdoings. Instead, the partners have decided to separate or irreconcilable differences.

Filing for Divorce

This is a crucial step of the separation as you must file paperwork for divorce proceedings to start officially.

For states that have a waiting period, you must ensure you have been separated for the required time before you begin to file for divorce, or else, you may be forced to redo the process.

Make sure you file the divorce case to the right court in the state where you or your spouse lives. Also, remember you’ll need to provide your name and contact, grounds for divorce, whether you have children, and how you desire property division.

After that, the process can start, and you have to wait until the final judgment to know the court’s decision on separation, custody, and property sharing. Bear in mind that you will need to pay a divorce filing fee for your petition.

Here are some notable terms you should know before you initiate the process:

  • Divorce process: The legal process for dissolving a marriage as defined by the Law Information Institute.
  • Separation date: The date a couple decides to live separately
  • Divorce proceedings: The court hearings and legal filings
  • Divorce case: The legal case filed with the court
  • Divorce petition: The initial court filing requesting a divorce
  • Terms of the divorce: The negotiated agreements on asset division, support, custody

Deciding on Living Arrangements

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Separation feels hard for many people, emotionally, financially, and logistically. As the relationship ends, the one question that both spouses have is where they will live.

Deciding on the new living arrangements can be difficult, especially when you have kids (or about to have one).. But there are many solutions to this challenge, and you just have to figure out what works for you.

So should you stay in the family home with your children, or should your former partner live in the family home with them and look for somewhere else? Should you sell it and settle in your individual properties? Let’s answer these questions below.

Living in the Same Home

The law allows couples to live under the same roof while separated. You can qualify for a divorce even when you live in the same house with your ex-spouse, provided you can prove that you are separated. Evidence that you aren’t together can include:

  • Sleeping in separate rooms
  • Not wearing wedding rings
  • Having separate finances and bank accounts
  • Not having sexual engagements
  • Not attending functions together as a couple
  • You’ve informed your friends and family of your separation
  • Not doing household chores for one another like cooking, washing, etc.

One Spouse Staying in the Family House

If a marriage breaks down, both parties can legally stay in the family home. Here isn’t a presumption as to who gets to leave and who remains.

One party cannot force the other to move out and find other living arrangements, and there isn’t a law that enables one party to remove the other just for the sake.

But if there are safety reasons or there has been an event of domestic violence, the affected party can apply for an injunction. In that case, the court can order the other party to vacate the family home.

Selling the Family Home

In some cases, the best solution may be for both parties to sell the family home and live in separate households. This mostly happens when neither party has the income to afford living in the marital home or buying the remaining mortgage.

Regardless of who owns the property, it is likely part of the net asset pool available when splitting the settlement. After selling the property, the couple must agree on how to share the income. Please work with a property lawyer for the best way forward.

Note: Whichever route you choose to take, there can be emotional challenges. Whether you’ve stayed with your partner for months or years, you already have that attachment.

Therefore, watching them leave to live separately can be challenging. At the same time, living together may be hard, especially if you had a messy separation, and selling the family home is not an easy option either.

It’s okay to get emotional during the process. But remember the main reason why everything is happening.

Reasons for Continued Cohabiting

Most couples choose to go different ways after a separation. But in recent years, many ex-spouses are choosing to live together for various reasons, including:

Financial Constraints

Inflation has significantly affected the economy. Daily expenses like gas, rent, mortgage, and groceries have skyrocketed. Rebuilding your finances after a divorce is not easy.

It may make sense if you and your ex-spouse decide to share the financial load before you figure out your different paths.

It’s also worth noting that divorce is an expensive process.

Although the overall cost varies depending on different factors, the average cost of divorce in the U.S. is around $7,000.

If you and your ex-spouse are or have already spent this amount in the separation, you may decide to continue living together until the financial dent is filled. Then, one person can move out.

Practical Reasons

Some couples decide to live together after separating because of logistical reasons. For instance, it may not be wise to pay for rent for two houses when you can co-exist in the same room.

Also, if children are involved in the divorce, the parents might decide to live together to care for them and maintain a stable living condition. Sure, living with your ex-spouse can strain your personal space. However, you may decide to sacrifice that to create a secure atmosphere for your children.

Social Reasons

Society puts a lot of pressure on couples, which can force them to live together after separation. Some religions and cultures consider divorce a taboo and will stigmatize those who practice it.

So, instead of suffering embarrassment, some couples decide to stay together.

Other Reasons

Some situations can force a couple to live together after a divorce. For instance, if the property is shared or they have difficulty finding a new home, staying together makes sense as they figure out a permanent solution.

If you have separated, evaluate your unique situation to decide whether staying together can work for you. It’s best to work with a financial advisor for guidance on your finances moving forward.

Setting Ground Rules

If you have decided to live together, know that the new arrangement will not be that easy. You and your former spouse need to decide whether you will share the decision with others, negotiate fair participation with your current situation, and plan a way of functioning and coping together in the new way.

Here are some areas that seem problematic but most couples can navigate the difficulties and live peacefully.

  • Boundaries: Clear boundaries are the most important thing when couples live together after the end of a marriage. These rules will help you both function and live peacefully in the same house. For instance, you must agree that none of you will bring a new partner into the home. Or none will go into each other’s rooms.
  • Chores: When you were married, one person may have been the one doing household duties more than the other. But now that you are staying as roommates, everyone must be responsible. You need to discuss how chores will be divided and handled to give the new living arrangement the best chance.
  • Co-parenting: Co-parenting won’t be that difficult if you’re staying together. But, you will encounter issues. A plan will help relieve the stress around co-parenting, and your children will feel safe.
  • Sharing resources: Since you are only roommates, sleeping in separate bedrooms is the first step. You must also agree to the terms of divorce regarding medical insurance and other expenses. It is important to work with a common budget for the expenses you will continue to share during this time.

These ground rules will help you stay in harmony with your ex-partner. But they are not that easy. Since you two were used to sharing your space with no boundaries, it may be difficult to adjust emotionally and physically. And sometimes, it can influence your individual well-being. However, you will adjust with time.

Legal Considerations

There are many practical reasons for continuing to share the same roof while separated. But before you make this move, ensure that you draft a separation agreement. That will also be used as part of the evidence during the divorce proceedings.

Typically, a family court doesn’t need to make orders following the same terms of your separation agreement. But it will be useful in guiding you both on how to deal with some aspects of your new arrangements after the divorce.

Make sure you include:

  • Financial agreements
  • Children care agreements
  • Use of family cars
  • Friends and family members who will visit

Remember it’s best to seek legal advice concerning this. Your divorce lawyer will guide you on the family law and how to proceed.

Impact on Children

Children are the most affected parties when it comes to divorce. Watching their parents, who loved and cared for them together, drifting apart can be difficult. But as parents, you can take several steps to ensure they are comfortable and feel safe. While you wait for child custody, there are things you can do to help them transition.

The first step is to inform them together that you are working on living in separate houses and would love to spend time with both of you. Also, remember to let them know your separation has nothing to do with them. Reassure them of your love and inform them that they don’t feel like they have to pick a side.

Next is to create a co-parenting schedule. Please don’t involve your children in your conflict. Plan how you will spend time with them, especially younger children. You can make a chart and place it somewhere common to see.

You can continue doing some things together, like having meals, if the atmosphere allows it. But in everything you do as parents, do not create an environment where children feel they must choose.

Maintaining Separate Lives

It isn’t easy to lead different lives when staying with your former partner. But remember that this is temporary until you decide on a permanent solution. Each spouse needs to live independently even while under the same roof.

That means focusing on their interests, careers, and even other relationships. Dating or becoming involved with new romantic partners is allowed since you only live as roommates. But, it is wise to put some ground rules on bringing other people to the house.

If you are dating, please be discreet and honest with your new partner. Also, consider if this is the right time to get involved in a romantic and sexual relationship.

Making It Work

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Living together when you are divorced is an odd arrangement. To make matters worse, you continue living in the same house you were living in as a married couple.

The arrangement often results in the two of you getting back together, or one person will ultimately move out when they cannot withstand the bitterness.

However, since it is a temporary situation, you can make it work. Ensure mutual respect for one another even if you are no longer a couple. Also, put in the effort required for a successful cohabitation.

All partners must be responsible for the arrangement to be successful. Lastly, make the right choices that prioritize your family’s well-being.


The information provided above does not constitute legal or financial advice and is for informational purposes only. Individual situations and legal jurisdictions vary, so consult a qualified attorney in your area if you have questions about your specific circumstances regarding shared living arrangements after separation or divorce. The author and publisher disclaim any loss or liability from the use of the tips above.


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