Divorce, Debt, and Finances

Tips, Struggles and Successes navigating Divorce, Debt and Finances

Should You Live With Your Ex?

  • Comments 9

It was almost six years ago to the day that I asked my ex husband for a divorce. I think we both knew the time was coming, and I had done my homework, planning all the details of my departure. I had decided I couldn't afford to keep our marital home and knew he wouldn't want to.

So I consulted a realtor who listed our home two days after I said the words, "I think we should get a divorce." The next 2 weeks were a whirlwind and it all happened much more quickly than either of us anticipated. Our homeShould You Live With Your Ex? sold two days after it was listed, for full asking price, to a cute young couple with a son the same age as our own. She fell in love with the house and had to have it. Painful as it was to watch someone else walk through my home and mentally place furniture, I was happy the sale was quick and we could move on with our lives.

This was back in 2005 the height of the housing boom and we were lucky! Today couples face the reality of foreclosure, short sales and houses that sit for a year or more. What do they do? Lose their shirt and sell well under value, if at all? Or, continue to live with their soon to be ex spouse, potentially with children in tow until things look up? Tough call and a decision I was glad not to have to make.

I posed this question to a relationship expert to better understand the emotional side of living with your ex and a Divorce Financial Strategist to get the skinny on the legal and financial ramifications.

Can you heal under one roof?

Michele Davidson of Modern Celebrant shares her thoughts on the emotional aspects of living with your ex...

"When you are in the thick of ending the marriage (or living together immediately afterwards due to financial pressure) the reasons for your parting may seem very black and white...cut and dry. It can be easy to see your former spouse as the villain. It takes time to view the ending of your marriage truthfully and with conciliation, because it was such an emotionally invested relationship. Endings like this are far from easy. Living together through the process is a mine field. Your ability to do the inner personal work required to fully embrace your future will be hindered while you are living under the same roof. And yet, if you wait until you are no longer living together, you will suffer emotionally much longer. It's important to begin healing NOW!"

Emotional Tips

  • Get out of the house!
  • Do not hold discussions of anger or blame with your former partner unless you are in the company of a therapist. Talk to trusted friends or a counselor instead.
  • Create new rituals for yourself in the small daily activities of your life. Things that are just for you. Head out with your journal to a cool new coffee shop each week... change to a new brand of coffee... move furniture. Life is lived in the small things not the big.
  • Write a list of 'soul food'. Activities that renew your spirit.
  • Commit to taking yourself on dates that cost max $10 or better yet, free! Though I don't have children, I once went to a kid's spelling bee. With a $1.50 cup of tea I spent a thrilling afternoon. Look in your local paper for ideas.
  • Connect with friends on your own not with your spouse. They will help you chart the rough waters of this journey.
  • Eat well. Challenge yourself to make your food from raw ingredients instead of buying prepared food.

Always remember that you are divinely multi-faceted. You know your own truth. Pay attention to your actions, words, thoughts and beliefs so that they align with your personal integrity. The pain and change of your divorce are the keys that will one day open the door to a more vibrant future. Be brave. Don't wait for the day when you are not living together to begin. Do it now. Take responsibility for creating your new reality.

Can you finalize your divorce under one roof?

Jeffrey A. Landers, CDFATM a Divorce Financial StrategistTM and the founder of Bedrock Divorce Advisors, LLC says, "If you are divorced or legally separated, living together with your ex, or soon-to-be ex, is not a good idea on so many levels." He shares his thoughts on the legal aspects of living with your ex.

Legal Tips

  • Living together while legally separated may impact the ability in some jurisdictions to finalize a divorce.
  • If you are already divorced, living together will affect the ability for the paying spouse to deduct alimony payments from their taxes.

This is what the IRS says in their publication concerning Alimony: "Spouses cannot be members of the same household. Payments to your spouse while you are members of the same household are not alimony if you are legally separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance. A home you formerly shared is considered one household, even if you physically separate yourselves in the home. You are not treated as members of the same household if one of you is preparing to leave the household and does leave no later than 1 month after the date of the payment."

As with many issues that arise with divorce, deciding to live with your ex has emotional, legal and financial ramifications. Having to make the choice will certainly not be easy, but taking the time to weigh the pros and cons, as well as, how the decision will affect your future will empower you to do what's right for you.

Have you been in a situation where you felt forced to live with your ex for financial reasons? I would love to hear your story! 

Suzanne Cramer

Suzanne is a certified credit counselor working in our Ask the Expert forums as a coach and a Social Media Specialist for CareOne. Suzanne writes for our Divorce, Debt and Finances and A Straight Talk on Debt blogs. Follow Suzanne on Twitter where she shares the latest debt industry news and tips to keep your finances in check with her ADivorcedMom and AskCareOne accounts.


  • In my case we had thought about it and did a trial separation in the house before we decided to get a divorce.  I can say it didn't work for us and in the end we ended up with a short sale on the home.  Honestly as much as I wanted us to be able to save the house and reap the benefits later, it would have taken a major emotional tow on both of us.  Now looking back, I am glad we did the short sale.  In fact I was a bit shocked it didn't hurt my credit as much as I expected it to.  Of course it only took a week on the market before someone was interested and stuck it out to buy our home.  It closed within 4 months which is actually quick for a short sale from what I have been told.  No matter what a persons choice it isn't any fun to have to go through.

  • @mdavis1964  Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I have never been through a short-sale but I hear sometimes they can be a nightmare! I am glad to hear it worked out well for you and yes, from what I know about short-sales a 4 month closing is really good. It sounds like you made the right decision for you!

  • I ended up moving out the day I told my ex I wanted a divorce.  I had an apartment all lined up and the first night there, I slept on the floor with one blanket, one pillow, two cats, and no power.  I was happier and felt safer that night than I felt in a very long time.  To me, divorce wreaks havoc on credit one way or the other.  There is a division of property and debt and it's just a mess.  I'm no attorney, but we did our divorce ourselves.  I ended up taking all of our revolving debt (and subsequently enrolled in CareOne when it became overwhelming) and my ex ended up keeping the house.  I had to agree to pay him alimony for two years in exchange for him refinancing the home.

    It took over a year for him to refinance, because our divorce was right after the housing bubble burst.  It was awful - he kept threatening to walk away from the house and let the bank come after both of us for the $.  Luckily, the divorce papers put the house and any penalities generated from late or non-payment on him.  If the bank came after me, I had reason to sue him.  It still wouldn't have been any fun, but I at least had some legal avenues to take.

    Mother Theresa herself would not have been able to convince me to live in the same household as my ex.  It would have been awful - I had to sacrifice a lot to make ends meet in an apartment during that time, but it was worth it to be away from him.  If you have the option to move out, I highly recommend it.  It may not be the most practical financial thing to do, but emotionally it makes sense.  It gets you away from a toxic situation and allows the healing process to begin...in my opinion. :)

  • Very well said jami1kenob!!  I completely agree with you!

  • @jami1kenob  I am totally with you! Feeling safe both physically and emotionally is worth the financial price you may have to pay. Divorce is never easy, I know I have been through it twice! The first one wasn't so bad, but the second a complete nightmare.

    I am glad your situation turned out ok and that he didn't end up sticking you with the financial burden of the home. Hang in there you will be debt free before you know it!

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