Relationship Advice

How to decide where to live during a separation and after a divorce

From a woman who's been through it all.

By Anju Regis
Anju Regis is the founder of The Separation Exchange, an online resource for Australians going through a separation or divorce, as well as those married men and women who are thinking about ending their relationship.
Guided by her own separation experience, Anju wanted to share the personal and professional advice she's learned along the way, in the hope that her pain may serve other people experiencing something similar.
Here she shares with Now To Love her tips for navigating the difficult divorce conversation with your children.
Figuring out the living arrangements post-separation is quite emotional.
They say that home is where the heart is, but what happens when your heart is broken? What happens when all your dreams of creating a family are now fractured?
During a separation, your "home" is unstable or at risk of being taken away.
The place you used to come home to for refuge, your happy place, is now in jeopardy.
Money limits most of us from moving on faster than we would like in some situations, so we end up in less-than-ideal situations due to financial constraints.
Let's run through some of the living situations you might find yourself in, along with some very helpful resources I wish I had known about during my own separation!
Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver play a couple navigating divorce in the movie Marriage Story. (Image: Supplied)

Some of us have to co-exist under the same roof, while separated

This situation can be beyond anything you can imagine.
Obviously, most of us end up in this scenario because of a sheer lack of options!
Let's hope for your sake it is a plan for the short term!
Some lucky couples can co-exist and have a mutual respect that works, but I think it is safe to say that those situations are rare!
Some end up having to stay under the same roof with their abusers, cheating partners, alcoholics, and a myriad of other profiles.
My situation meant that we agreed to co-exist until our paperwork was done. This period lasted approximately four months and ended the day before my birthday!
Feeling empowered, I announced that the paperwork was done, signed and delivered. And just like that he was GONE!
Of course, I was devastated and relieved at the same time.
This situation would work better if both parties mutually agreed on the rules of co-existing, while co-existing.

Some people move in with family

I did not have to endure this scenario, but some people are forced to. You do what you need to do.
The benefit to this situation is that you are not alone and you may have "some" support.
The help I had in my situation was mostly paid, with the exception of two hours a week from family, and a few days during school holidays.
If moving in with family is the situation you find yourself in, then perhaps sitting down with the family and setting up expectations and being clear on what you need may help.

What happens when you no longer have a home?

There are several housing support services available out there that help families find a home in emergency situations.
Rental assistance is also available in the form of Centrelink and Bond assistance for people applying for private rentals (each scheme has eligibility requirements so contact each office for more info).
Whatever your circumstances, you are most likely going through a myriad of emotions and feelings of disbelief that your life has ended up here.
Taking care of yourself should be a priority for the benefit of any kids that you may have.
There are free resources on The Separation Exchange, plus these links below detail the free housing options available in each state.
WATCH BELOW: Sarah Ferguson reveals her "self hatred" following divorce from Prince Andrew. Story continues after video.

How to support your kids during a move

During this transition, the kids can be impacted immensely.
The displacement affects all of us, however FDR mediator and child consultant Renee Fedele (you can find her details online here) has some excellent book suggestions for your kids that can help explain the two-home setup.
  • Two Homes by Claire Masurel
  • It's Just Different Now by Linda Espie
  • The Suitcase Kid by Jacqueline Wilson
Home IS where the heart is, but during the tough transition period all we can do is try our best.
Ride the storm and take each day as it comes. Allow yourself to just be sad sometimes, then shake it off and keep moving forward!
For me, home was wherever my kids were, and as long as I had them, I was home.
For more resources on divorce and separation, visit The Separation Exchange.