In today’s Divorce Academy video, Kevin explains how to address your future living situation in divorce if you share a house.

Video Transcript:

Hi everyone. Welcome to Divorce Academy. I’m Kevin Handy and I’m one of the divorce mediators here at SnapDivorce.

In today’s Divorce Academy video, I’m going to talk about how to address your future living situations in divorce if you share a house.  In most divorces people are going to be sharing a house, so this question comes up all the time.  And, it’s a tough one because if someone has filed for divorce, or if you as a couple are talking about divorce, things are probably getting a little tense and uncomfortable in your house, and you are probably thinking, “I don’t know if I can live like this, but what am I going to do? And what can I do?”

I’m going to try to answer those questions for you today.

How to Address Your Living Situation in Divorce can be Broken Down into (i) Before/During Divorce and (2) After Divorce

I’ve broken it down into a before and after divorce analysis.  Over here I’ve got things to think about and address before and during your divorce when it comes to your living situation. And over here I’ve got things to think about after your divorce has been entered – what are you going to do and where are you going to live?

How to Address Your Living Situation When You Share A Home Before and During Divorce

Let’s start with before and during the divorce. I listed a bunch of things you need to think about. There’s not going to be a straight answer for this question. It’s going to be factors and financial issues, and things like that, that you need to consider when it comes to your living situation before or during divorce.

Number one is going to be practicality. By that I mean, how are things at home? Can you stay in the house? Is it too uncomfortable? Is it too tense? Are you guys amicable?

A lot of times, practicality speaking, the couple is going to have to live together for at least a couple of weeks or a couple of months. It’s not always the case. Usually, in maybe half the divorces, things got so difficult somebody moved out and that is what precipitated the divorce. But in a lot of cases, especially in mediated divorce, you’re going to have the couple still living together

So, the question is, can you guys get along? Are there separate rooms you can sleep in? Can you guys work out the finances? And how long are you going to be able to do that? Those are the kind of practical things you need to take into consideration.

Financial issues are going to be a big one that you’re going to have to figure out. If I want to move out, can I afford to move out? Do I have the down payment for an apartment or a new house? Am I going to qualify for financing? Do I have enough income?

If you are staying in the house, same questions. Can you afford it? If a spouse moves out of the house, typically the spouse that remains in the house is going to be responsible for the mortgage, the upkeep on the house, the expenses, property taxes, all those sorts of things. So, if you’re the one that stays in the house, you need to think, “Can I afford this?”

This gets into another question about support. Obviously, most divorces are going to involve some sort of support. Either alimony or maintenance or child support. So, in thinking about what are you going to do – am I going to stay? Am I going to move out? You have to think about, am I going to get support? Am I going to pay support? You’re going to want someone to run support numbers, so you have an idea of what to expect.

You can see all this gets pretty complicated, in terms of time to move out; who can afford to move out; is someone going to need an advance on marital funds to afford a down payment; what is the support number going to be.

Mediation is a Great Way to Figure Out Your Living Situation Before, During and After Divorce

I’m going to plug mediation here, because mediation is a great way to figure this sort of thing out. Because you can sit down with your spouse and with a neutral third-party, the mediator, and talk about all these issues and who wants what, and what are the numbers going to be, and what’s the timing, and that sorts of things. If each of you hired divorce lawyers and you’re trying to go through attorneys and your fighting about stuff it gets very, very difficult and very, very expensive to figure out this sort of issue in divorce. So, this is a little plug for divorce mediation.

They are the kind of major factors that you need to consider.

Nesting can be a Solution to Your Living Situation Before and During Divorce

One thing I’m going to bring up – and this is before and during the divorce – is something called nesting. This is an idea they came up with. It’s for people with children, and the idea is let’s, during the divorce, until we know who is going to be living where, let’s at least keep the children’s lives stable. The idea is that the children will live in the marital residence, whether it be a house or an apartment. And, the parents, during their custodial time will come in and reside with the children. Maybe the children will stay in the house and mom comes in on Mondays and Tuesdays and stays at the house, and dad comes in on Wednesdays and Thursdays and stays at the house. And then they alternate the weekends.

It’s kind of a neat idea, but I think it only really works for a small percentage of couples who really get along and they trust the other spouse to keep the house neat and take care of it and stuff. Usually, even in the best of situations, it only lasts a couple of times (months). But I thought I’d bring it up because it is an option.

Does One Party Have to Move Out of the House During Divorce?

So, maybe you’ve considered all these factors and you are thinking about things. It sort of begs the question, who moves out? Maybe you both want to stay in the house, and so you wonder, how do I get my spouse out? Or, we both want to be there, but we can’t stand each other. What happens?

This is a great place where negotiations come in in mediation.

In situations where the couple can’t sit down and talk about things and work it out, practically what tends to happen is the spouse who can no longer stand things – the situation has just gotten too tense, there is too much fighting going on, eventually some is like “I can’t take it any more” and they just move out of the house and they just accept the financial consequences.

Once someone moves out of the house, the question that always comes up is, “Is that going to affect who gets the marital residence in the divorce?” A lot of times people are like, “I want to move out. I can’t stand things anymore. Things are too tense but . . . I’d actually like to get the house in the divorce.” I’d say, all things being equal, it could have a slight impact on who gets the house. Typically, the person who stays in the house has maybe a slight advantage. But, I’d say, usually the financial aspects of who gets the house override that default of who’s in the house.

Again, I mentioned this before, but who moves out also has to do with who can afford to move out.

Finally, just a little extra point, a question is, “Who owns the home? If someone owns the home prior to the marriage and its just in their name, they can evict the other person. Same thing with an apartment. The lease is just in one person’s name and it was in the name before the marriage. Pretty unusual if that situation arises. You really need to talk to a mediator or a divorce attorney.

They are the kinds of things you need to think about in terms of your living situation before and during divorce.

How to Address Your Living Situation After Divorce

After divorce, usually it’s going to be a little bit easier. There are not as many things to figure out. You going to have divided the property. Probably you’re going to have figured out who is going to get the house.

But here are some things to think about. You may also think about these things in your divorce settlement.

Where do you want to live? Do you want to stay in the house?

I’d say it’s probably 50-50. About half the clients we see, someone is like, “Yeah, I’d like to get the house. I’d like to stay there.” And the other half the time they are both like, “Neither one of us wants it. We kind of want to move on” or “We can’t afford it.”

So, obviously, where do you want to live? Maybe you want to move close to your job or something like that. Move close to your family. That comes up a lot. Who wants and gets the marital residence that’s going to affect, obviously, where you live.

So, again, these are the questions, similar to before and during the divorce, that you have to ask yourself. Can I afford the marital residence? What’s the price going to be? Typically, in divorce you determine what the equity is in the marital residence and someone is going to have to buy out the other person’s share of equity. So, can you afford the price? Do you want the children to stay in the house? Who has the children?

Refinancing. Again, if you’re going to do a buy-out, can you afford to refinance the house to get your spouse off the mortgage?

There are all kinds of things you need to think about in terms of getting the marital residence. And, obviously, if you don’t get it, you’re going to have to find somewhere else to live.

And then the question is, where can you move? Most times, it’s pretty much anywhere. Except if you’ve got children and if you want to have custody of the children. You can’t move out-of-state without special court permission. So, if you’ve got children, my recommendation is, and all the studies show, that children do better where the parents live reasonably close together. The closer you live together, the easier it is going to be for you and the easier it is going to be for the children. If you’ve got children that are minors and you are sharing custody, I’d say live at most 5-10 minutes away from each other. And, obviously, you have to determine where can you afford to live. That will depend on your support and divorce settlement.

That is how to address your future living situation in divorce if you share a home.

I hope this has been helpful. I’ll see you next time on Divorce Academy. Thanks.

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