Recently, a very popular feature of the New York Times, Modern Love, featured an essay written by one half of a formerly married couple who share custody of their 8 year old and live under the same roof, albeit in different living quarters. There are various reasons why divorcing couples might consider co-habitation after divorce, but it does present some legal and emotional hurdles to clear.
Consider the scenario if the couple has children requiring one spouse to pay child support to the other parent or if the court ordered that an ex-spouse pay alimony to the other ex-spouse.
If theere's co-habitation after divorce, the support obligation may be altered to reflect the fact that the person paying the support or alimony is living with the recipient and reducing their expenses.
There are many pitfalls to consider when contemplating a post-divorce living arrangement involving sharing the family home once divorced. That is why it is crucial to engage a CDFA-Certified Divorce Financial Analyst in your case. You will need someone who understands the potential tax and financial issues that can arise.
If you have children that you will be co-parenting, obviously it is not prudent to expose them to conflicts and fights that can occur over finances and/or the parenting plan.
Questions to Consider if You Plan to Live Together Post Divorce
- Divorce documents should address how the home will be owned post divorce. Will you continue to own it jointly for a period of time, then sell? Will it be titled as JTWROS (Joint Tenants With Right Of Survivorship) or TIC (Tenants in Common)?
- How will the house be divided up? Will each spouse have possession over certain rooms? How will common areas be divided? Will it be different for each parent’s ‘parenting time’?
- Now that the divorce divided up your bank, investment and retirement accounts, who will pay for the household expenses, including groceries, utilities, mortgage and property taxes? What about daycare costs?
- Who will pay for maintenance and repairs for the home?
- What about dating? Will those dates be allowed in the home? What about each parent’s ‘parenting time’?
- How will this living arrangement be explained to children, family and/or friends?
- How long will the living arrangement last? Is there an end-date?
- What will happen if one spouse wants to leave the home?
- Will one spouse pay the other child support and/or alimony? Of note, currently alimony (maintenance, spousal support) is not taxable. BUT, should it become taxable again, the alimony deduction is not allowed if both parties reside in the family residence, post divorce.
- If spouses split the mortgage payment, who takes the tax deduction? Can the mortgage deduction be shared? If so, will it be shared in proportion to how much each party contributes to the monthly mortgage?
- How do spouses divide any increase or decrease in the value of home if it sells or if one party buys out the other after the divorce is finalized?
- How do you deal with the situation of one person being unable to meet their monthly home related bills due to injury, job loss, etc.
So You Think Co-Habitation After Divorce Will Work For You and Your Ex
Perhaps you and your spouse feel this would be a workable living arrangement, and it may well be for your family--it just requires the proper planning involving the right expert up front.
We provide consultations to divorcing spouses about unique living situations like these. To flesh out your questions about cohabitation, schedule a 20 minute call with one of our experienced divorce professionals.