“My husband and I have been living together during our separation because we can’t sell our house nor afford two properties. How can we make our situation better?”
Bad housing market or not, living together for practical and financial reasons is in some ways a variation of the “marriage of convenience” or “staying together for the sake of the children”. Trying to disentangle emotionally is painful, and you need to recognize that you are switching from a soon-to-be former spouse to business partner. When neither one of you can afford to move out, you need to establish financial and ground rules.
Treat the situation as a business arrangement, and plan regular meetings to work on ways to improve your physical living space. Acknowledge that cohabiting is difficult, but by working as a team, you can make the most of the difficult situation. Create schedules to spend time alone with your children. If possible, designate space that is private and off-limits to the other. Emotional space is just as important as separate sleeping arrangements. Divide household chores and expenses.
Under the Divorce Act, a marriage breakdown can be established by showing that “the spouses have lived separate and apart for at least one year immediately preceding the determination of the divorce proceeding and were living separate and part at the commencement of the proceeding.” While the court could possibly find that spouses were living separate and apart while living under the same roof, there needs to be evidence of two separate households. This would include separate bedrooms, meals, and no shared activities.
With any change of status and your relationship moving to a new level, it is always advisable to check with a professional. To help evaluate and obtain an accurate analysis of your financial situation, you may want to seek help from a Financial Divorce Specialist or a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.
About the author of this Ontario Divorce FAQ:
June Oliver is a Certified General Accountant, Certified Financial Planner, and Financial Divorce Specialist in Mississauga and Oakville, Ontario. She can be reached at (905) 257-6528 (Oakville) or (905) 290-2007 (Mississauga). View the Divorce Magazine profile for Ontario Collaborative Divorce professionals.
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