ConflictDue to the state of the economy, more and more couples are getting divorced and can’t afford to live apart during the divorce process—and sometimes even afterwards.

Living under the same roof during this difficult period increases the stress for clients, creates a negative environment for the children, and makes it harder for clients to remain constructive with each other.

Because my original training is as a therapist, in mediation I often approach issues by first trying to understand the human dynamics of the situation. Then, as a divorce mediator, my job is to help couples come to practical decisions they can both live with.

To help clients who can’t afford to live apart while they are getting divorced, I developed, and use, the following approach:

Each client has the family home to themself for several nights each week. For example:

  • Client A has Monday and Wednesday;
  • Client B has Tuesday and Thursday.

On ‘nights off’, each client schedules dinner with friends, goes to the gym, works late or gets quiet time reading at the local library and returns just before bedtime–often to a separate sleeping area.

With this arrangement, the parent who is in the house can relax with the children without constant tension in the air or worrying about when things are going to blow up—and they don’t dread coming home the entire time they’re at work.

Although this arrangement definitely takes some planning and getting used to, clients have told me that the minor work involved pays significant dividends in lowering their stress levels and increasing their positive time with their children. I see the results, too, in how they interact more positively during the next mediation session.

If you can’t afford to live apart during the divorce process think about whether a night or two off each week could help lower the tension enough to both improve your quality of life, help your children and allow you to be more productive in mediation.