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Living with ex-partners after divorce

A surprising number of couples still live together after filing for divorce simply because the economy, job loss, and a soft housing market will not allow one or both to acquire a separate residence. Financial disagreements may lead to separation, but they do not necessarily resolve themselves simply because a couple chooses to end their relationship.

A recent survey by the NPR-Kaiser Family Foundation found that couples who have suffered a job loss by one or more partners in the last year reported significant negative changes in their relationships, including damage to health. When couples decide to separate, however, they may be faced with even more bad news: The marital home may be underwater, or they may be unable to sell, often a crucial factor in resolving divorce financial issues.

Couples who are forced to live in the same home despite a decision to divorce should set ground rules for co-habitation. A clear and understandable budget is a must along with psychological or emotional agreements not to argue over differing opinions. Some couples benefit from agreeing not to speak to each other for a 14-hour period after a disagreement. Most importantly, partners must realize that they cannot force a former spouse to acknowledge faults or understand a point of view if the partner chooses not to do so.

For couples who are considering divorce, having a signed agreement may be helpful in eliminating the cause of many disagreements. A divorce attorney can often prepare an agreement that will meet the needs of both spouses and treat them fairly during and after the divorce process.

Source: MSNBC, "Chained to your ex? How to live together after a divorce," Michele F. Lawrance, Dec. 23, 2012

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