Our struggling economy has placed a surprising number of divorced couples in a position where they are forced to live together after their divorces are finalized. Not because they want to, mind you. Simply because they have no other choice. Though while it’s no one’s ideal situation, there are ways to make it easier for everybody.
In the previous article on cohabitation after divorce we opened this topic of discussion with two very important issues that would need to be discussed up front. The subject of budget, and then domestic duties. Knowing where you stand on both of these will go a long way towards making it easier to share a living space in the wake of a divorce. Moving on, we have another couple of issues to consider in cohabitation after divorce. Namely child care and respect for privacy.
Usually when a couple divorces, the issue of child care is dealt with in the custody agreement. However, when a couple divorces but doesn’t part ways, the issue of custody doesn’t hold quite the same weight as it would in a more conventional post-divorce setting. So how do you handle this?
If you have a custody agreement that went into effect with the divorce, it will need to play a role in how you determine child care arrangements. Obviously, if one parent was given sole custody while the other was granted visitation, this would translate into the way you live your daily life. The parent with visitation could take the children to the park, or out for ice-cream, on days that would have been their visitation days. This has the added benefit of giving the parent with sole custody an occasional break.
However, if custody is split between the two parents, you and your ex will need to figure out days that each of you takes responsibility for the needs of the children. Dropping off and picking up the kids after school, preparing snacks, taxiing them to extra-curricular activities or friend’s homes, all of these are responsibilities that the “on-duty” parent will need to manage. This should also mean being available at home on your “on-duty” nights, so that your ex is free to go out on their nights “off-duty”. The on-duty/off-duty agreement may be hard for your children to get the hang of at first, especially if they’re young, but in time they will adjust.
While this is actually a rather big and important topic that we could spent a good deal of time covering, the reality is that it can be summed up quite simply. You and your ex are no longer married. You no longer have the right to know what they are doing in their free time, and with whom. In the same way, they no longer have the right to invade your privacy and demand details about your private life.
After a divorce, people go their separate ways and create new, independent lives for themselves. This is no different for ex’s who choose cohabitation after divorce. While it may be harder to readjust your thinking on this subject, try to think of each other as roommates. In the same way that you wouldn’t go snooping through your roommate’s bedroom, or read their e-mail without permission, you shouldn’t do it to your ex. The more effort both of you make to respect each other’s privacy, the more successful you will be at this.
Join us next time as we touch on the next two issues that ex’s need to address if they are intent on cohabitation after divorce, namely emotional attachment and establishing boundaries. Until then, if you or a loved one are considering divorce, or need help with any of your personal protective order or premarital agreement, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245. Our highly skilled family law attorneys are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week to help you when you need it most.