When people are sitting down to discuss this, they don’t know for sure where either one of them is going to live. The house may be listed for sale; it may take several months and even up to a year for a house to sell. In the meanwhile, they’re living under the same roof and there simply isn’t enough money for each party to move out and to try a trial separation. It’s very, very stressful.
The best that parents can do when they’re living under the same house is to try alternating to the extent that they can of who is going to be the parent of, I call it “the primary responsibility for,” certain times in the house when they know that different parents are going to be available for the children. Maybe you alternate weekends; maybe you say every Friday night is with dad and every Saturday night is with mom. This way, it also gives the party a break. Maybe you divide what the chores are as far as working on homework with one child or bringing another child to activities. This way, the parenting duties are divided between the parties and the parties are able to figure out what the activities are of the children and how they’re going to be able to continue those either once the house sells or once both parties are able to move out of the marital home.
This also becomes very difficult because parents who are extremely involved may have some difficulty adjusting to a new parenting schedule once the parties separate. Children are actually very resilient; they actually adjust much to their parents’ chagrin. Usually, it’s the parents who have the difficulty adjusting to not seeing their children every day. For example, if one party always brings the children to school every day, that’s their time in the car to see their children and discuss with them if they’re looking forward to their day and whatnot. Now, they’re only going to see them for seven days out of a 14-day schedule, or maybe they’re not going to see them during the school day. That’s usually more difficult for the parents to adjust than the children. But it’s something that they’re going to have to adjust to, and I assure you the children will adjust to it too.
Alison C. Leslie, Esq. practices family law exclusively in her Morristown, NJ offices, where she offers her clients the individualized attention of a solo practitioner with the experience of a larger firm.