I'm in this situation and coming to find that it is not all that uncommon in this economy. There are other reasons why people choose to do it, of course, and there are reasons why it won't work for everyone, but I'm really curious to know if there are people here on this board who are in this kind of situation in part because of finances.
DH and I agreed to divorce two months ago and decided to stay in the same house (with some modifications to our space). We get along well enough even now, and we both want to be full-time parents to the kids, but finances are definitely a major factor. We both feel strongly about homeschooling and in having parents home with kids, and if we were trying to support two households in this situation, I think we couldn't do it. Also we just found out DH is expecting a layoff at the end of April (he's a contract worker now, so no unemployment pay). We're also not rushing to do the divorce in part because we know it will be expensive. Marriage seems so easy and cheap compared to divorce.
Some people have suggested a "birds nest" option where the parents rotate in and out of the house where the kids live. Nice thought, but it means maintaining three households! Not happening on our income - we're struggling to maintain what we have. We are doing okay, but still, there is not enough wiggle room to cover another household, let alone two.
I think we're lucky in that our house is big and our downstairs is sort of almost already a separate apartment, though making the "kitchen" into a real working kitchen will require moving the laundry machines somewhere else, and that will involve plumbing and wiring that will likely get expensive, so we're putting that off. Also we will need appliances for the kitchen. And serious plumbing work is needed to get the shower functional in that space. For now we're sharing living room, kitchen, bath, and entry. But when the time comes that we really and truly need separate space (like other people are in the picture) we can change that. I am optimistic.
I'm wondering if the number of people who do this sort of thing will increase with the challenges of our economy. In a way it means redefining what "household" means.
To be clear, our situation does not involve abuse, and we are both functional parents. Of course situations vary widely. I'm just curious to know if others here have had this experience and what you think of it from an economic perspective. (ETA words in italics)
Edited by worthy - 3/16/11 at 5:02pm