One of the most difficult things you can do during your divorce is attempt to live separately in the same home. Though it has become a necessity for many couples who can’t afford two separate physical spaces, it’s definitely something that comes with a number of difficulties.
Once you’ve separated, you have to also stop cohabitating. That means that you have to change almost everything in your life. You stop wearing wedding rings, cooking his meals, doing his laundry, and cleaning up after him.
Usually, when I start talking about all the things you have to do to prove to the judge that you’ve been separated, women stop me around #2.
“What?” they say, confused. “I can’t cook for him? But I always cook for the family. Am I supposed to cook for the kids and then…not for him?”
It may sound strange, but, in an ideal world, yes. To live separately, you should be making the same choices that you would be making if you lived in one place and he lived in another. It may seem mean to make food for the rest of the family and let your husband fend for himself, especially when it’s really no trouble for you to make enough for everyone all at once, but that’s probably what you should do.
Why? Well, because at the end of your one year of separation, you have a hearing in front of a judge, and the judge will ask you whether you’ve lived separately. Usually, the judge won’t ask detailed questions, like “Did you ever cook dinner for your husband during the year you claim you were separated?” It’s possible, though. I’ve had it happen once.
As an attorney, I have to advise you that it’s much, much better for everyone involved if you actually do everything separate. I’m a real person, though, too, and I know that it’s probably not realistic to expect that you’ll do absolutely everything exactly down to the letter the way you would be doing it if you lived separately. The list we provide in the book, “What Every Virginia Woman Should Know About Divorce,” (which you can get for free by clicking here) is definitely an “in an ideal world” kind of list. I’m not saying that you wouldn’t be able to get a divorce if you didn’t do one of the things on the list, and I’m also not saying that the occasional slip up is automatically the kiss of death. I am saying, however, that it’s safest to do as many of these things as possible, and act in good faith throughout your year of separation.