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Divorce Mediation in Tough Economic Times

In these tough economic times, New Jersey couples who engage in divorce mediation are often in for a surprise when presented with the realities of their financial situation. Selling a house isn't as simple as it used to be and for many couples their homes are worth less than they owe or less than what they paid for them. This leaves some couples with quite a dilemma as the choice to get divorced is often overshadowed by the ability to live independently after the divorce is final so some couples are cohabiting after divorce mediation to cut down on costs but is that really a good idea? Here are a few of the items you may wish to give some thought to if you plan on cohabiting after divorce mediation:

How will child support be handled?

The New Jersey Child Support Guidelines allow for three distinct areas of expenses:

  • fixed costs
  • variable costs and
  • discretionary costs

If you're going to be residing in the same household, who gets "credit" for carrying the fixed (i.e. housing) costs for the children and in turn, how is that factored into the New Jersey Child Support calculation?

How will spousal support / alimony be handled?

Will spousal support start when you are divorced or when one of you moves out? If it starts when you're divorced, how will you paid you bills for the home you are currently cohabiting? Also, what are the tax implications regarding reporting it as income for the payee or deducting it for the payor?

What about overnight guests?

I know it must be impossible to think of a life after your divorce but as a New Jersey divorce mediator I "optimistically caution" my clients that the time may come when they meet a new special someone and wish to spend more quality time with them. Doing so while cohabiting after divorce mediation may present some awkward situations.

Who lives where?

Chances are good you had one master bedroom so now who sleeps where? Who gets to use the shower at what time? How about common areas like the kitchen? By the very nature of divorce, you are trying to create separation and having to share common spaces will be unavoidable so how do we do it without resorting to old patterns of conflict?

How long does this go on?

So now you meet that special someone and want to move out. Who pays the bills on the marital home? Who can compel the sale of the house even if it's at a loss and under what circumstance?

These are just some of the many issues that arise when cohabiting after divorce mediation so for couples who are considering it, make sure you give some serious thought to how this will play out now and in the short, medium and long term futures. I know it may be difficult to think about now, but there will come a time when you've healed from this stressful time and are ready to move on with your own life and having one foot in the past and one foot in the future can make the transition more difficult than you think.

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