Read this before deciding to cohabit as a divorced parent

Rachael Scharrer, Divorce expert, coach and founder of DivorceAnswered.com.au and LifeAnswered.com.au, shares some important considerations before you decide to cohabit.

It is more financially viable to have another adult in the home as you raise your children or as the children spend time with you. However, there are a number of items that need to be considered when you do plan for another adult to move in with you and your children. So, before you decide to move your new partner in with you and your children, read this article first!

Firstly, your relationship status will default to a de facto relationship (see article here: debunking de facto relationship myths) and this comes with its own unique considerations. However, there are lots of benefits, beyond sharing financial costs, to having another adult in the home. They include:

  1. Sharing the parental responsibility
  2. Having another adult back-you when you need the children to do as they are told or to listen to you
  3. Having someone to care for you when you are unwell, busy or feeling the need for extra support
  4. Enjoying adult conversation when the children are asleep or not around
  5. Sharing the household domestic duties – cooking, cleaning, washing
  6. Having a date when you go out to an event or party
  7. (of course, there are adult activities that a partner is most helpful for)

Living together makes the above so much easier, accessible and achievable. However, before you move in together as a divorced parent in a partnership or de facto relationship, you need to 0consider the changes that it makes financially. The type of ‘family’ that you now have often means that your family income will include the additional adult in the home. This then may affect:

  1. Centrelink benefits and support. You may no longer qualify for single parent pension or low income earning benefits
  2. Family tax benefits
  3. Tax returns. Your accountant or your partner’s accountant may want to distribute some income to lower income earning spouse. Make sure that this only happens with full disclosure and wholehearted agreement/consent
  4. Child support
  5. If you are currently going through the court process, your partner will join the scrutiny that you are subjected to. Your partner will likely be involved in any family reports or expert investigations that are required

I must implore you to please tell the truth to all government agencies. Whistle-blowing is encouraged against people trying to avoid paying the appropriate amount of tax or meet other government obligations. Your ex-spouses and their partners may alert government organisations to your change in relationship status or living arrangements.

If you choose to proceed with living with another adult in a committed relationship, it would be worthwhile to consider:

  1. You will also need to update your Will
  2. Update who you nominate as beneficiaries in to your superannuation.
  3. Create a financial agreement (or pre-nuptial agreement) which outlines the financial responsibilities and financial ownership throughout the relationship and if your circumstances change

Before you proceed with living together, it is important that you budget, plan whose domestic responsibilities are whose, talk about your ‘rules,’ wants, needs and expectations. Planning and being clear about what you want, what you need and the wants and needs of your partner will make for a more successful and happy union together.

Disclaimer

This is general advice only and is not provided as legal advice. If you have a legal issue, you should contact a lawyer and/or accountant before making a decision about what to do or applying to the Court. DivorceAnswered.com.au cannot provide legal advice. If you have an emergency situation, please contact Emergency '000'. © Divorce Pty Ltd