Separated But Living Together: Must-Follow Rules And Boundaries


Legal separation is when though still married, a couple starts living separately, as per law. However, there can be several reasons such as financial instability, support for children, and property dispute why people may be separated but living together.

In such situations, you need to avoid unnecessary arguments and set some rules and boundaries right from the beginning. Read this post to know why people live together even after separation and the rules to follow while doing so.

Can You Live Together After Legal Separation?

Living together after separation is not a new arrangement. But remember that legal separation is not the same as a divorce. You are no longer married to your spouse in a legal separation, but you are also not divorced, so you cannot get married to another person. Once the court grants legal separation, it will give clear orders regarding property division, child custody, and alimony—similar to a divorce settlement.

With a divorce, spouses lose several benefits such as health insurance and access to assets. On the other hand, legal separation helps you retain some of those benefits, which is why many couples have lived years under this setting.

Why Do Couples Opt For Living Together After Separation?

Every couple has their reasons to be together after legal separation. Here are some of the most common ones.

1. Children

Many separated couples continue to live together for the sake of their children. Parent’s divorce can have adverse effects on children as the experience of having a parent leave them can be traumatizing. Therefore, couples prefer co-parenting while living in the same house to protect them.

2. Health insurance

Some spouses could be well placed at work, reaping the benefits of health insurance coverage that extends to their family. It serves the purpose for those who take legal responsibility for the children. Being together allows the parents to gain the benefits of a strong and secure health insurance policy.

3. Expensive divorce

Divorce can be an expensive affair, with its total cost summing up to several thousand dollars. In cases where finance is an issue, living together after separation seems feasible as it takes off the burden of managing finances on your own. It can also be a temporary arrangement until the couple manages to source the money required for a divorce.

4. Difference in income

Some couples’ earnings can vary vastly, with one spouse earning a lot more than the other. Such an income disparity can affect their lifestyle and even that of their children. Living together allows them to continue with the lifestyle while splitting certain expenses and responsibilities of household chores.

Rules For Living Together After Legal Separation

As simple and convenient as it may sound, it is not easy to get along living together with your ex-spouse. Here are some rules to follow to ensure a smooth cohabitation.

1. Make guidelines

When you decide to live together, the first thing you should do is chalk out clear guidelines that you and your spouse will have to follow. You will have to compromise to make it work. List down the division of responsibilities and chores.

2. Date discreetly

You are now eligible to re-enter the dating scene. However, do not forget that you still live with your ex-spouse, so you need to be discreet when it comes to your new romantic liaisons. Do not hide anything but do not flaunt it either.

3. Create a budget

You will have to create a budget under which you and your spouse will pool a certain amount of money for household expenses. If the difference in income is vast, you can negotiate with them. Make sure the arrangement is reasonable for both of you.

4. Prepare a co-parenting schedule

If you have children, you will have to make a co-parenting schedule by allocating responsibilities to take care of your children. As per your work schedule, you can talk to your partner and decide a weekly schedule of who drops and picks up your child. You can also talk about homework assistance and after-school activities.

5. Avoid sleeping together

You once loved your spouse, so it is natural to feel attached to them when living under one roof. However, under the new circumstances, do not sleep with each other. It might cause unnecessary complications that can make eventual separation difficult.

6. Decide upon a ‘no fight’ clause

Certain issues may have led to the separation, and those can still be touchy topics. When you decide to live together, mutually talk about those issues that you will not mention before each other to avoid arguments and fights. It is especially helpful if you have children living with you at home.

Dos And Don’ts To Follow When Living Together After Separation

In addition to the above rules, here are some dos and don’ts to follow while living with your former partner.

  • Make clear decisions and stay firm on them.
  • Have a set date or time until which the arrangement shall last.
  • Stick to your designated space at home. Do not try to clean or manage your spouse’s space.
  • If possible, maintain separate entries to your personal space in the house.
  • Avoid doing extra work that is not designated to you. Do not try to be your old self and help around when it is not your duty.
  • Do not fight or argue in front of children. It defeats the whole purpose of living together after separation.
  • Maintain separate bank accounts except for one where you save money for children and other household expenses.
  • Do not go for outings or vacations together. Stop attending family functions and events together.
  • Do not celebrate birthdays or anniversaries together. Do not give a gift to each other for any occasion.
  • Inform your respective family and close friends about the separation and that you have decided to live together before divorce.

If you and your partner are separated but living together owing to financial problems, child support, or other reasons, being patient and creating certain boundaries and guidelines can make it a pleasant experience. Avoid sleeping together, make clear decisions, and, if you have children together, avoid fighting and arguing in front of them and create a co-parenting schedule by assigning responsibilities. If you ever feel like you can no longer compromise, remember that you are already separated, and it’s only a temporary arrangement; you will eventually move out once your circumstances improve.

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Ratika Pai

Ratika has experience writing in various fields including finance, education, lifestyle, and entertainment. After her masters degree in Commerce, she acquired a PG Diploma in Communication and Journalism from Mumbai University. She is inquisitive about human relationships and likes to study people and how they manage their relationships, during her freetime. At MomJunction, Ratika writes insightful and informative articles on... more