Q. My husband and I have been married for 20 years. We have two children in high school and we both love the neighbourhood where we reside.
We have decided to live separate and apart but we both want to continue living in this house. Any suggestions?
A. Congratulations to both of you for being sensible, mature adults and choosing an option that you feel is best for each of you and your children.
In this scenario, I would assume that you jointly own the family home and all assets will be split equitably.
I would suggest spending some time, perhaps in the presence of a lawyer or mediator, discussing some scenarios. These discussions should be reduced to writing. They include:
1. Developing a plan with respect to the payments of all household expenses, including mortgage, insurance, taxes, utilities and home repairs.
2. Making a contingency plan if a party loses his or her job or is not able to pay expenses, due to illness or accident.
3. Deciding on how you will share specific rooms or areas in the home (kitchen, laundry facilities and backyard).
Will a schedule be posted in advance, if one of you would like to use the common areas for entertaining family and friends?
4. How often should this living arrangement be reviewed to ensure both sides are still agreeable?
5. Should there be a termination date agreed upon (for example, when the youngest child has completed high school)?
6. Conversely, if the arrangement is not succeeding or if either party wants to move out, will the property be immediately listed for sale or could either party have the first option of buying out the other party’s interest?
7. If the value of the property appreciates or depreciates significantly, how will a decision be made to sell the property, or to not sell and continue to watch the market?
8. What happens if either one of you forms a new romantic relationship and this partner/spouse wishes to move into the family home?
Darrel Hotz, Barrister & Solicitor
50 Richmond Street East, Suite 113
Oshawa, Ontario L1G 7C7
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