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How to live to together after you've split up (if you have to)

Not all couples who decide to divorce can afford to live in separate homes right away. Home prices and rents are on the rise in the metro Phoenix area. That's good news if you're selling your home in the divorce. Until then, however, it can make it difficult for one of you to leave the home and put some space between the two of you. You may be dealing with other financial issues that make it impossible to spread your combined household income over two homes.

It's possible for divorcing or divorced couples to live under one roof for a time. This may be easier for couples without children. Such an arrangement can cause confusion and false hope that their parents will work things out.

Obviously, if there's been physical, verbal or emotional abuse, a couple shouldn't continue to live together. Your attorney can help you take steps to protect yourself from an abusive spouse.

If you're going to continue to live together, it's essential to set some ground rules -- and stick to them. If you had issues with the day-to-day minutiae involved in living together as a married couple, things could easily get worse now that you're no longer a couple.

Household expenses: Make a line item budget and determine who's paying for what. You may split the costs down the middle or the spouse who's financially better off may pay a larger share. However, that may then be taken into account as you work out the divorce settlement. You may want to codify your arrangement in a postnuptial agreement or other legal document.

Roommate etiquette: Often one spouse is messier than the other. That spouse needs to be conscientious about picking up and cleaning up after him/herself. The same consideration applies if you're sharing a bathroom or taking turns using the kitchen or other rooms.

Romance dos and don'ts: As tempting as it may be, don't do anything that will rekindle the romance, even for a night, and cause conflicted feelings for one or both of you if you've decided to divorce. Don't bring home other people or discuss your romantic life with your spouse either.

If continued cohabitation is a financial necessity for a time, discuss it with your attorney. He or she can help you set rules and put some things in writing to ease you through this temporary arrangement.

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