August 1, 2016/by Catherine Canadé
New York is expensive. Rent or a mortgage can be exorbitant, and creating two homes after divorce only doubles those costs. To afford life after a separation or divorce, some parents decide to continue living together for a period of time and to co-parent their children under the same roof. Mediating a divorce allows the couple to be more creative in their outcome than if they pursued a traditional litigated divorce through the court system. For example, they can work through how long they will continue to live together and the process of physical separation.
Living together for a period of time after divorce can be beneficial not only financially but also for the children, because they will have access to both parents on a daily basis. But it requires some extra planning before, during and after the period, in order to be successful.
Here are a few issues to consider if you intend to cohabitate after the final judgment:
Privacy. A possible situation might have the children sleeping on a middle floor with each parent in their own space on a separate floor above and below them so that each parent can spend time with the children on their own. Things may get a little more difficult when new partners enter the parents’ lives. These arrangements do not typically last more than a few years but can be so helpful in those first years when children require stability and continuity.
Parenting Time. When parents participate in mediation, they often create two parenting plans: A Plan A for how they will parent their children while living in the same home and a Plan B to delineate how they will parent their children in separate homes. It requires creativity on the part of the parents in order to come up with a satisfactory parenting schedule that allows for time with the children on an individual basis while respecting the rights of the other parent to enjoy time with the children as well.
Finances. When parents live together after divorce, a traditional child support order may not be appropriate since both parents are contributing to the expenses of running the household. Therefore, parents who co-habitate in one home after divorce often create a different financial arrangement. For example, they may retain or create a separate bank account into which they deposit money based on their percentages of income to share the children’s expenses or to share home costs, such as mortgage and utilities.
Communication. Parents who are most successful living together after divorce are able to communicate their needs and interests to the other parent in a respectful manner. They are able to minimize conflict in front of the children and model good behavior by acting civilly as they co-parent during what can be a time of stress and financial transition.
Catherine Canadé, Esq., is an attorney and mediator.