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Many separated couples choose to continue living in the same house while ending their marriage. Some couples decide to share a roof for financial reasons, while others feel the transition will be easier on the family if they cohabitate until the divorce process is over. Since every case is different, discuss your options with your North York divorce lawyer. The decision to move, or to ask your spouse to move, might affect your case.

If you choose to live in the same house with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, you face a unique set of challenges that people who physically separate don’t have to deal with. It’s important to keep your North York divorce lawyer in the loop. If your situation changes, your lawyer can help you make the right decisions at the right times.

Same House, New Rules

Staying in the same house after you’ve decided to divorce can be tough. You and your spouse will need to lay some ground rules. Naturally, you’ll want to discuss what constitutes a legal separation with your North York divorce lawyer; don’t assume that you’re legally separated without consulting your lawyer first.

Although the Ontario Divorce Act states that couples must live “separate and apart,” this does not necessarily mean that you have to live in different houses. If your relationship has ended, but you remain in the same family home as your spouse for any reason (i.e., children, finances, etc.) you can still be deemed to be living “separate and apart.” The important aspect is that you no longer behave like a married couple.

Your new house rules will likely include:

  • No sex. You and your spouse should avoid being intimate with each other for the duration of time you live under the same roof.
  • No dating. While you may be finished with your marriage, wait until your North York divorce lawyer gives you the go-ahead before you start dating someone new and begin a new relationship.
  • No family activities. Although you and your spouse still live together, you’ll probably need to stop doing things together as a family. If you don’t, you’ll run the risk of confusing your young children and might jeopardize the status of your separation.
  • No shared finances. Separate your bank accounts and stop relying on each other’s income once you’ve decided to split. You can each contribute to the mortgage, household bills, and the financial obligations you have toward your kids, but try to avoid buying each other’s food, necessities and gifts.
  • No public pretenses. Take off your wedding rings and let friends and family know you’re getting divorced. Don’t attend parties or work events together, and stop presenting yourselves as a couple in public.

Survival Tips While Living in the Same House With Your Ex

Set Up Your Own Space

Part of being separated means having your own space, even if it’s within a house you’re sharing with your soon-to-be ex. Move (or ask your ex to move) into the guest room or another bedroom, and keep your private business private.

Having your own space is vital to surviving separation when you live with your ex. You need a place you can retreat to when a fight is looming or when you just want to be alone and practice self-care.

Stick to the Rules and Maintain Your Privacy

Staying firmly in touch with your ground rules can help preserve your mental health and well-being during the divorce. You, your spouse, and your kids will be less confused about the situation, and moving on will be easier, particularly if you have your own room, bed, and belongings in a private space of your own.

Create a Parenting Schedule

Ex-couples who are in cohabitation should create a parenting schedule for their children. Both should discuss and agree on co-parenting and who will be spending time with their children on specific days. 

It could be challenging to explain the divorce to your children, especially when they’re still young. As much as possible, talk to them in terms that they can understand. Older kids could probably grasp the concept more quickly, but younger children require a more sensitive approach.

You could start by explaining the situation together, then spend time with them separately afterward. Spending separate time with your children creates a routine and reinforces the reality of the separation. It helps the transition to divorce a lot easier to digest.

Keep the Cohabitation Period as Short as Possible

Living in the same house as your soon-to-be ex-spouse is ideally a temporary arrangement unless you decide otherwise. Living together during the divorce should simply be a transition into living apart from each other.

Extending this cohabitation period could complicate the process, especially for your children. Living together for a more extended period could make emotional separation difficult to achieve.

If you’re having a hard time living under the same roof but don’t feel you have other options, talk to your North York divorce lawyer. They might be able to give you a nudge in the right direction.

Couples can have a separation agreement, a legally binding contract that sets out each party’s rights on issues like child custody, child support, and property. Gelman & Associates lawyers can draw this up for you. You only need to reach out to them, and you’re set.


A separation involves living apart while intending to end the marriage. Both parties may still reconcile at any time. On the other hand, a divorce is the legal termination of a marriage. Spouses cannot marry anyone else during a separation, but they can after a divorce.

Both spouses will usually have equal rights to the family home after the divorce unless the court decides otherwise. You can then decide whether to sell the house or keep it.

The short answer is yes, as children are more likely to thrive in a stable, loving environment. A divorce usually disrupts that. However, if your marriage is riddled with conflict, infidelity, or abuse, filing for divorce would be better for everyone in the long run.

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