Is Post-Divorce Cohabitation a Bad Idea?

A man and a woman sitting together at a dining room table.

Post-divorce cohabitation is not uncommon, and for a variety of reasons. Sometimes when a marriage ends, there is so much to think about that where to live becomes an afterthought. If your marriage might be heading in that direction, you may be one of many people who considers staying in place, at least as things get settled and you figure out what to do next.

If so, it would be wise to consider the upsides as well as potential downsides of such a situation, particularly if it involves children or other sensitive issues. Family law experts often help clients process questions related to their living situations, both before and after a divorce. Some common examples include.

  1. Jointly-owned property;
  2. Tax filing status;
  3. Alimony (spousal support);
  4. Prenuptial agreements;
  5. Inheritance questions;
  6. Asset division; and
  7. Emotional struggles.

Post-divorce cohabitation may become difficult for the party who either can’t afford to leave or did not want the divorce. But it can also be a perfectly reasonable solution for two people who still get along and have pragmatic reasons to keep living together.

What Are the Reasons for Living Together After Getting a Divorce?

Many couples continue to live together during and even after their divorce, and there are many reasons for this. Perhaps the most common reasons are practical ones. If you have been relying on your spouse financially, you may not yet have the means to support yourself independently. And if it’s your ex who is in that position, you may not want to ask them to leave, especially if you are still on good terms.

Another significant question is whether you have children together. Taking care of small children is often an incentive to delay a divorce, but it could also be a reason to continue sharing an address, even if you no longer share a bedroom.

There’s no law that says you have to be married to live together. Ideally, the choice should be a mutual one. However, since there are implications of living together that you may not have considered, it’s best to seek legal advice to make sure you’re protecting your interests – as well as those of any children you are raising with your ex.

Should You Get a Postnuptial Agreement?

Getting a postnuptial agreement can be a good idea for couples who are married, even if they never end up getting divorced. It’s a contract similar to a prenup, only one that you get after you’re married. Reasons for doing so include separating your community property, outlining how any debts will be dealt with, and other financial concerns that might come up.

No one wants their marriage to end, but they also don’t often anticipate that it will. This document can clarify issues that may otherwise drag out a divorce or cause unnecessary tension if the marriage doesn’t work out.

What About Common Law Marriage in Illinois?

There is a misconception that two people living together as a couple for a certain period of time automatically become common-law married. However, that is not the case. Elements to a common law marriage typically include:

  • You must live together.
  • You present yourselves as a married couple.
  • You intend to get married.

If one or both people don’t want to be married or tell other people that they are, then they are not likely in a common law marriage. Either way, it would be wise in this case to consider entering a cohabitation agreement so that both people have legal protections, even if they don’t intend to get married.

Ask Family Lawyer David King About Cohabitation Agreements, Prenups & Other Legal Assistance

Whatever your choice of living arrangement, be sure you’ve thought out the consequences so that both parties have a better idea about what to expect. If you are contemplating living together after your divorce and want to know how to protect yourself legally, contact a family law attorney with experience in this area.

At the Law Office of David A. King, P.C., we provide the most up-to-date family law advice for couples on a broad range of issues. Contact us to schedule a free consultation about your divorce today.

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