How to Separate From Spouse While Living Together in Minnesota?
Separation and divorce are difficult decisions that married couples face. While some couples decide to live separately right away, others choose to continue living together while separated. This arrangement can work well if the couple manages expectations and sets boundaries. Here’s what you need to know about living together while separated.
Living together while separated may seem contradictory. After all, if you’ve decided to separate or divorce, wouldn’t you want to live apart? However, there are many reasons why spouses choose to stay under one roof during their separation period. Perhaps neither spouse can afford to move out yet. They may want to maintain stability for their children. Or, they hope that counseling and space could help them reconcile.
Whatever the reasons, living together post-separation can work if you set ground rules and boundaries. Read on to learn how to navigate cohabitation with your ex or estranged spouse.
Why Some Married Couples Choose to Separate But Still Live Together
There are a few reasons a married couple in Minnesota may decide to live together after separating:
Financial constraints – Setting up two households is expensive. Separating your finances may be challenging if money is tight. Continuing to share living expenses can ease the financial burden as you transition.
- Convenience – One spouse moving out can take time to coordinate. Living together temporarily avoids an immediate move.
- Children – Couples with kids often want to minimize disruption to their lives. Staying in the family home allows parents to separate while maintaining stability.
- Health issues – If one spouse is ill or disabled, the other may serve as a caregiver. Separating but living together enables them to maintain this care.
- Uncertainty – Spouses who are unsure about getting divorced may separate first to see how it goes. Cohabiting provides a “test run” before fully splitting.
- To qualify for divorce – In Minnesota, you must live separately for 180 days before your divorce can be finalized. Some couples remain in the home during this waiting period.
No matter the reason, living together after separating requires intentionality to be successful long-term. Some guidelines can help.
What Are the Benefits of Living Together While Separated?
For some couples, living together while separated makes practical and financial sense. Moving into two new homes could be costly, especially if the separation is temporary. Staying under one roof allows spouses to save money during the transition. It also provides stability for any children involved.
There are other potential upsides to maintaining a shared household during separation:
- Ongoing connection and ability to work on reconciliation
- Keeping an eye on the home and possessions
- Avoiding major life changes for children
- Shared parenting and childcare
- Splitting living expenses
Guidelines for Living Together While Separated in Minnesota
Separating from your spouse emotionally while continuing to live together presents some unique challenges. Here are some ground rules that can help this arrangement go more smoothly during your transitional period:
1. Discuss Expectations Openly
Have an upfront conversation about what you both want and expect during the separation under one roof. Get on the same page regarding:
- Sleeping arrangements
- Dividing household duties
- Sharing common spaces
- Financial responsibilities
- Parenting time with any children
- Having guests over (including romantic partners)
- Interacting with each other in the home
Agreeing to expectations helps avoid misunderstandings down the road.
2. Set a Timeframe
Agree on a separation start and end date, even if tentative. This gives you both a sense of the separation’s duration, helps motivate working on marital issues, and prevents the arrangement from continuing indefinitely.
Many couples target the 180 days required in Minnesota before filing for divorce. However, separating from your spouse while living together should not exceed one year.
3. Separate Your Finances
Close joint accounts and open individual ones. Be sure to cancel any joint credit cards as well. Paying remaining shared expenses from a joint account is fine, but keep other finances separate.
Documenting your finances during the separation is wise if you later proceed with divorce. It also helps eliminate daily money issues between you.
4. Live More Separately Under One Roof
Create defined spaces and boundaries within your shared home, such as:
- Separate bedrooms
- Split chore charts
- Alternating cooking nights
- Different recreation areas
- Separate food shelves
Living more independently helps you adjust to life apart. Just be sure to communicate about shared spaces like bathrooms.
5. Coordinate Parenting Time
If you have kids, set a custody schedule noting when each parent is responsible for them. Consistency is key for children during this major change.
Communicate about fulfilling parenting duties like meals, bedtime routines, transportation, and homework help. Avoid putting kids in the middle by keeping exchanges conflict-free.
6. Limit Interactions
Though you live together, limit conversations and casual affection. Refrain from sexual intimacy completely. Act more like courteous roommates than spouses to avoid sending mixed signals.
Only discuss separation matters, household issues, and child-rearing. Be brief and direct during interactions. Spend time outside the house if possible to further distance yourself.
7. Don’t Discuss Separation Details with Others
Keep details private outside your immediate family, as needed. Telling friends or extended family about continuing to cohabitate could complicate matters if you reconcile.
Those close to you may also perceive the situation negatively. Discretion helps avoid unwanted judgment or opinions.
Establishing Physical Separation in Your Minnesota Home
Part of transitioning to more separate lives under one roof involves dividing up your physical space. Here are some tips:
- Sleep separately – Agree which spouse will use the master bedroom versus a secondary room or converted space like the basement. Don’t enter each other’s private rooms.
- Split bathrooms – If possible, assign his and hers bathrooms. At minimum, schedule shower times.
- Separate food/meals – Shop and eat separately. Alternate who cooks for the family. Don’t grocery shop together.
- Divide storage areas – Use different closets/dressers. Clear out joint spaces. Mark “yours” and “mine.”
- Distinct recreation – Take turns using shared spaces like the living room. Don’t watch TV or spend leisure time together.
- Create offices – If space allows, set up two home office areas on opposite sides of the house.
- Leave the house – Spend time out exercising, socializing, or engaging in hobbies. Don’t only interact at home.
These physical separation strategies prevent you from relating as a married couple and help you adjust to living independently.
Moving Forward After Separating But Living Together
Some couples eventually reconcile after a separation under one roof, while others proceed to divorce. Regardless of your ultimate path, here are some tips for this temporary transitional period:
- See a counselor – Individual or couples counseling can provide needed support and clarity. Having a neutral third party gives objectivity.
- Focus on yourself – How do you want to spend your time separately? What changes or self-care are needed? What are your long-term housing goals?
- Reflect on your marriage – What needs aren’t being met? What’s needed to reconcile? Could you co-parent well if divorcing? What legal preparations should you take?
- Discuss next steps – As the agreed-upon timeframe ends, determine together if more time is needed or you’re ready to live totally separately. Don’t drift along indefinitely.
- Consult a divorce lawyer – Learn your legal rights and responsibilities regarding separation in Minnesota. Know the implications before making any major martial decisions.
Separating from your spouse while living together requires adjustment for all involved. But abiding by some ground rules and maintaining open communication with your spouse makes this temporary arrangement possible.
Schedule a Consultation with a Minneapolis Divorce Lawyer Today
At Martine Law, we have experience helping Minneapolis area couples navigate in-home separations smoothly. Our compassionate family law attorneys assist with creating separation agreements and guiding you on the road ahead – whether toward reconciliation or divorce.
We know this is a challenging and uncertain time. However, establishing structure in your living situation can help as you move forward. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.