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California: Is Your Ex Spouse Still In The House? Former Mates Who Continue to Cohabitate
(provided by Kristina Diener, Psy.D.)


Some people have to go home to their parents in tough economic times but can you imagine sharing a house with your ex-spouse?

"Definitely I blame the economy," grimaces Ed Goodwin as he collapses in a barstool after a long day at his Akron, Ohio construction site. The gritty 52 year old foreman pulls no punches as he complains about another growing irony: Former Mates Who Cohabitate.

Since the impending demise of the US economy, many divorced couples have found it necessary to continue to share a mortgage. Recessions, layoffs and being just plain broke have practically made it impossible to relocate. "And what if I did move?" demands Ed. "I can't sell the house for what I paid for it. It would put me in more debt that I'm already in and more damage to my kid's financial future." Los Angeles based marriage therapist Cindy McCorkran, LMFT, agrees that doing more financial damage wouldn't solve the crisis. "If you have two people who agree to disagree, what's the harm? That is, they're in the same boat together so there's more willingness to harmonize if both their assets are on the line, so to speak."

How Does It Affect The Children?

There's a reasonable expectation that someone will move out sometime during a divorce. But if both parents are divorced but still live together, how would the children react? "Probably with a lot of shock and amazement," replies Louis Cavanaugh, Ph.D., a relationship specialist in Las Vegas. "Just think, you sit with your children to break the inevitable news and boom! You two are still sharing the same roof. It can certainly confuse children if they aren't old enough or mature enough to understand." Los Angeles family law attorney Marc Hassock, agrees. "It's a little disconcerting, to say the least, to explain to your children in the first place that you're getting divorced. But the financial impact can be more devastating. If you can work it out so you can get on your feet as soon as possible it may make it easier on your kids."

Financial Implications

The phenomenon of former mates who cohabitate is relatively recent. Nevertheless, it may be instrumental in uniting former combative cohorts. "This could stand to reason," says Ms. McCorkran. "For example, you under the gun to share space and get along, whereas before, you were with a person who knew the best and worst side of you. Now you have very little choice: it's tantamount to moving home with your parents with your tail between your legs. You really need to make an effort." Has she seen any reconciliation as a result? "Not directly, but I have counseled divorced cohabitants who are considering reconciling since they've managed to survive this kind of storm. In a strange way, it's brought cantankerous people to a better understanding."

Information provided by:
Kristina Diener, Psy.D.

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