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Wisconsin Family Law Articles
Cohabitation and Divorce

Cohabitation and Divorce

Once a divorce is final, it would seem that both people could go their separate ways. However, for some former couples, moving out of the marital home and setting up independent lives isn't financially realistic. In this circumstance, the pair may have to live together even though they are no longer married. While cohabitation after divorce is not usually ideal, it may be necessary in some situations.

Determine the Best Way to Divide Housing Costs

One important topic to discuss before beginning cohabitation is sharing financial obligations. If you have similar incomes, splitting the mortgage and bills, 50/50 may make sense. However, if you are living together because one person cannot afford to get their own place, you may need to come up with a different agreement. It may be useful to consult with a divorce mediator or attorney to develop an equitable plan.

Keeping Things Short-Term

When divorced couples decide they need to continue living together, it's crucial that they have an honest discussion about their timeline. Although some formerly married people may be able to move on with their lives and live platonically in the same home, this is not the case for many. It would be best to establish a goal of one or both people being out of the home by a set date. If living together is about convenience and saving money, each person being on the same page about moving out can help keep things on track. Additionally, staying in the same home indefinitely can keep both people from working through their feelings about the divorce and moving on.

Establish Rules at the Beginning

Transitioning from being a married couple to roommates can be surreal. Each of you will establish your separate bedrooms, but then there is the matter of sharing tasks which one of you may have been responsible for during the marriage. For instance, you may have taken care of the laundry while your spouse cooked dinner. Neither of you should expect to share your home in the same way you did as a married couple. When you become roommates, it's essential to be respectful of one another and your shared space. This means cleaning up after yourself and managing your own household responsibilities. One way to avoid conflict, is by establishing rules of how you plan to live together and attend to household tasks during this transitional time.

Be Respectful and Give Each Other Space

Being in the home together after divorce can be uncomfortable, and it's vital that each person be able to spend time on their own. You and your ex may want to consider creating a schedule which gives you each exclusive use of the home for a set period of time. For instance, you could take turns having the house to yourself for a few hours each weekend. You may also want to commit to keeping romantic partners away from the home when the other will be present.


Attorney Karyn Youso understands the challenges of cohabitating after divorce and can help you evaluate your circumstances and begin developing solutions. Call us today to set up a consultation so we can take a “first look” at your situation.

Want to learn more? Contact Attorney and mediator Karyn Youso for a free initial 30-minute consultation.