Checklist: Living Separately Under the Same Roof

Have you and your spouse decided to get a divorce but are still living in the same house? There may be compelling reasons to do so — you can’t afford separate places, you want to maintain a stable family situation for your children, proximity to your place of employment, etc.

Your date of separation has legal implications in many states. It can be tricky proving that you are really separated if, for family or economic reasons, you are still living together in the same house.

Here is a checklist of what you should do if you and your spouse are still living together but are separated.

  • Establish and maintain the intent to separate permanently or indefinitely.
  • Use separate bedrooms.
  • Do not engage in romantic or sexual intimacy.
  • Stop wearing wedding rings.
  • Don’t shop for your spouse’s food, prepare his meals, or shop for his clothing and other necessities.
  • Don’t let your spouse shop for you, and don’t use his food or other purchases.
  • Do not eat meals together, except for special occasions such as holidays or children’s birthdays.
  • Make each spouse responsible for caring for their own space within the home, such as a bedroom.
  • Make each spouse responsible for doing their own laundry.
  • Use a separate and secure computer.
  • Use a separate and secure telephone/cell phone for personal and business calls.
  • Establish separate checking accounts.
  • Cease socializing together, e.g., do not attend parties, movies, theater, etc. together.
  • Do not attend church together.
  • Where there are minor children, interact as parents only where strictly necessary from the children’s perspective and their well-being, e.g., meeting with school officials. If you both attend your child’s game, don’t sit together.
  • Don’t give gifts to your spouse for birthdays, Christmas, anniversary, Valentine’s Day, etc.
  • Let close associates and relatives know that you are not living as man and wife, but are separated within the residence.
  • Have a third party come to the home from time to time to personally observe the two spouses’ separate and distinct living quarters (bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.).
  • Utilize separate entrances to residence if feasible.
  • Be prepared to explain why you are living separately under the same roof, e.g., financial considerations; unavailability of separate residence; easing children’s transition to parental separation, etc.

infographic of information in blog

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  1. Husband and I have been separated 4 years and living in same home, he will not leave.
    He is terminally ill with Cancer, now under HOSPICE care, his two daughters’ have
    left him here for me to deal with. I’ve followed the guidelines above.
    I refuse to file for divorce, he has no money, its all about the house and my possessions.
    I had the house deed written, by right of survivorship, its basically mine.

    All the furnishings are mine, I’ve had some of my things for 50 years.we married
    three years after we met, purchased the
    house as unmarried, I poured all my funds from the sale of my former home
    into this property.
    The daughters were here last week damaged and vandalized.
    Now the one with the POA is coming back to prepare the house for sale
    and pack up my things to take.
    I’m paying all the bills.
    I’m waiting for a response from the two Attorneys. I had been told to just wait it out.
    That doesn’t seem to be working, daughter wants all of this done before he dies.
    Its all about money. Daughter is most interested in my Antiques and Art work.
    My will states my possessions go to the womens shelter
    I’m going to start taking them in now. Going to an Auction House here in Naples
    to see it they can take the big pieces.

    1. Auction house not interested in my posessions, so am donating my things to the Womens shelter here in Naples. They are in my will to get everything anyway, so giving them most early.

  2. This is an interesting post and I’m now between a rock and a hard place.
    My husband and I have been estranged for several years, he’s had terminal cancer,
    and 7 heart attacks, He was treating me like
    an indentured servant, and I was paying half the Bills. He never ever
    supported me or ever paid any of my Bills, I nursed him through
    every illness.
    He was given 4 to 6 months last August, my attorney said to wait it out.
    He abandoned the property 2 days before Hurricane Irma, leaving me to deal with
    preparing and the aftermath with out a cent. Then he turns up at the door Dec 3 bitching
    I changed the locks, called the sheriff, He and his daughter have for the past 3 years
    bombarded me with threats, I will not leave, I am now paying 100% of all the Bills on a
    very limited income Everything in the house was mine when we married, I’ve paid for thousands in improvements I’m now dealing with insurance, FEMA and the SBA. getting turned down right left and center.
    He will not sign any check unless he gets half in cash. The sheriff was out here 4 times in January because of threats made to me. He threatened to slash my tires, so the car in off the premises , Now his daughter is coming down to go through the house to take what she wants. all my things. And I learn its community property, can she just come down and help herself to my belongings? I had the house written up as By right of survivorship, which means when he does finally kick the bucket its mine free and clear, Oh I did pay it off in 2015. So can anyone come up with something, anything, I keep hearing your married he cannot kick you out and you cannot kick me out, although his daughter is trying to find a way to do that.

      1. Ginita, my situation has only gotten worse since ai first posted.
        I do have two Attorneys, our Elder attorney that wrote the wills, he is also my Guardian,
        and Power of Attorney, The other is a family Attorney, but as he’s terminal and now under HOSPICE care, he has nothing to lose by terrorizing me.The two daughters, were here last week and vandalized the house, they are 57 ad 61, they are coming back the end of the month, most probably to help themselves. I heard one the phone calls ,she wants to get this house in order to sell it. I had the deed written By Right of Survivorship, her name is not on the deed. But she is a viper and thinks New York laws apply in Florida.
        None of their late mothers things are here, they want all of mine.
        we’ve been married 18 years, 10 have been horrible, the last 4 living under the bylaws for seperate living together. I’m maitaining the property paying all the bills. do nothing for him, his daughetr is his POA pays his bills. his funds were moved in 2014, Jan he closed out his 401K not wishing to pay the taxrs, he thinks I will be hit with them , but I will not. taking it out keeps me from getting my share.
        I read an earlier post you wrote about SS, can I apply for his while he is still alive, its really hard paying for everything on 750.00 a month which is my SS. I paid the house off in 2015, stand in line twice a seek for charity food or I would not eat. That extra money would be like a bucket of gold for me each month.
        All I hear is you are still married, there is nothing we can do. There is no point to divorce, he is terminal.
        And I have no money for a divorce. On top of all this I am fighting the insurance Co over my Hurricane Irma damages, refused by FEMA, sba says I have no money to pay back a loan, so now I’ll be asking my Senator to interceed and try and get me a FEMA grant My husband is 85 and I’m 74.
        Hangingon by a thread.

        1. You are entitled to your own social security benefits or spousal benefits, whichever is higher. I’m guessing that social security is paying you the highest benefit to which you are entitled, since that is their mandate, but you can certainly check with them to see if that is true.

  3. My husband walked out on us on December 23rd 2017. We have two children under the age of 2. Ages 4 and 1/2 months and 22 months. He has not returned back to the home refuses to give me any money. He transfers money from his personal account to the joint account in only the exact amount of money that I need to pay each bill. He doesn’t give me any extra money for gas for food for anything for our children. I have to take money out of my daughters life insurance policy account to get our kids things that they need like clothing and food. And he goes to the grocery store and only gets what’s on the list for the kids if I add anything that I need he conveniently forgets that item or items.

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