Burning legal question: Should you stay roomies with your ex post-divorce?

Burning legal question: Should you stay roomies with your ex post-divorce?

Breaking up is hard enough without having to live with your ex and see them all the time. On one hand, staying put means you don’t go through the hassle and expense of moving out and finding a place. On the other hand, why stay with someone you’re separating from?

The following stories show how divorce can become more complicated (or less) when you stay with your ex-spouse.

Reddit user and her ex-wife

A Reddit user we’ll call InColour-0331 posted her story in November 2023. She had been living with her wife and two stepchildren (twins from the wife’s previous relationship) for 15 years when her wife asked for a divorce. The twist? Her wife doesn’t see the need for InColour to move out of the house.

When they first met, both women had stable jobs. But InColour’s wife dropped her job to pursue art shortly after marriage. InColour supported her and the twins, shouldering the costs of groceries, utilities, transportation, insurance, and other living expenses. By the time of the divorce, the twins were 22 years old but neither working nor in school.

The ex-wife-to-be often travels these days, so she wanted InColour to have the bedroom while she would sleep on the couch whenever she was home. They can remain best friends, and her twins can have someone looking after them when she’s on a trip.

Of course, InColour wasn’t having any of this.

Neither did many of the Reddit readers. Many took issue with the twins being adults already, saying they should be looking for jobs and supporting their mother. Other readers said the wife wants her cake and eat it too. Some said the twins grew up to become excellent freeloaders because they learned from the best.

The more sober Reddit reactors cautioned InColour to get a lawyer first to ensure she has no financial and other liabilities when they finally divorce. In a case like this, more often than not, a clean break is necessary.

But breaking up doesn’t always mean booting someone out of the house, as the following celebrity couples show.

Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow

The celebrity couple who put the term “conscious uncoupling” into the lexicon of divorce, Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow, had what TMZ called “the bougiest separation ever.”

Not only did the lead singer of Coldplay remain close friends with the Academy award-winning actress, but they also continued to live under the same roof for some time. Gwyneth even helped Chris buy a house near hers so they could raise their children together. They continue to be in each other’s lives even after they’d met new partners.

When ex-partners remain friends, it’s easier to uncouple consciously.

Bruce Willis and Demi Moore

Hollywood power couple Bruce Willis and Demi Moore were married from 1987 to 2000; they have three daughters. The actors announced their separation in June 1998. They filed for and finalized their divorce in October 2000.

Reports say that Willis and Moore lived apart for months during their marriage because of their busy schedules. After announcing their separation, Moore moved to Hailey, Idaho, to raise the couple’s daughters.

However, Willis and Moore remained close friends and continued to co-parent their children. And despite their busy schedules, they attended events and traveled with their kids together.

Eyebrows shot up when Moore revealed on her Instagram account that the two quarantined together during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. But that wasn’t really a surprise, since the two have always maintained an amicable relationship. In fact, Moore has shown her support for Willis after he was diagnosed with aphasia, which affects cognitive abilities.

What helped these two celebrity couples navigate their post-divorce relationship? They both remained close friends and co-parents to their children.

Clearly, InColour wasn't seeking post-divorce cohabiting advice from the aforementioned celebrity couples. After all, she's just a regular person and might find more practical guidance from legal experts rather than turning to Reddit users or seeking insights on Goop.

Do you want to stay together in the same house after a divorce? Think twice. It takes special arrangements — and maturity — to pull that off. Better yet, consult our legal experts in family and personal injury matters at Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams to ensure you’re legally covered. Contact us or visit our Renton office if you’re in Washington State.