Divorced, but living together!

Guest post by colleague, Ronald Barriere, Esq., Associate at Burns & Levinson LLP.  Mr. Barriere is a member of the Firm’s Divorce & Family, Private Client and Probate & Trust Litigation Groups. 

There has been plenty of press in recent months about the woeful economy’s impact on divorces, but one of the most interesting I’ve encountered was in Details magazine.

So called “nesting” arrangements are uncommon during the pendency of a divorce action. Parties who would otherwise move out and secure a rental property or – if their means allow – purchase a new property, will sometimes stay in the marital home out of concern for the children’s transition or for fear that they will forfeit their right to the marital home by leaving. However, what is less common is the situation where parties choose to remain under the same roof during the pendency of the divorce – or even after a divorce is finalized – solely due to market forces. The article suggests that these arrangements may become more common as the recession continues, and poses the unanswerable question: “How do I move on if s/he won’t move out?”

Beyond the obvious emotional considerations of such arrangements, they raise a multitude of other legal issues. For example, most property divided during a divorce is valued as of the date of the divorce, but what happens when the parties remain in the property beyond the divorce? How is the mortgage to be paid, and who should receive the credit for additional payments made during the period when the parties are cohabitating after the date of divorce?

Whether we are witnessing the start of a new trend remains to be seen, but what is clear is that parties wading into these waters need focus on both the economics of their decision and the emotional fallout that will inevitably result. Parties with children must be especially careful in weighing the costs and benefits of this arrangement, and be mindful of the messages they are sending to their children about where their lives as married persons end and where their lives a single parents begin.

1 Comment

  1. I would think legal separation would prompt a yearning for physical separation as well. To remain in the same household only begs for additional complications and hampers getting on with one’s life.
    Perhaps the answer is to find a more affordable place; get away from the McMansion, which you won’t need if you’re not housing a bunch of kids anyway.

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