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What is a 'Parenting Marriage?'

Many couples whose marriages end come up with creative solutions for minimizing the stress, particularly on the children. Some couples opt for "bird's nest parenting," where the children remain in the home and the parents take turns staying with them rather than requiring the kids to move between their parents' homes.

One therapist came up with an alternative to divorce called a "Parenting Marriage." The couple stays together in the same home, but the spouses essentially go about their lives separately.

She says she got the idea after counseling a couple who no longer felt the marriage was working, but didn't want to break up their family. They reconfigured their home so that they could live separately, but under one roof with their children. The therapist has since counseled dozens of couples in this type of marriage.

The therapist notes that the idea of living separate lives as married people isn't new. In earlier decades, couples often remained married to avoid the stigma of divorce. During tough financial times, couples have stayed together because they can't afford two homes.

Of course, if there is rancor in the marriage, staying together isn't healthy for anyone -- especially the children. That's why for a Parenting Marriage to work, the couple has to have a "good enough" relationship to parent their children in one home peacefully. It requires emotional maturity.

Even for couples who get along, a Parenting Marriage isn't without its downsides. If one or both spouses starts seeing someone else, things can get complicated. Further, in an era where divorce is acceptable, many couples may find themselves dealing with questions from others about their unique choice.

If you and your spouse opt to stay married and remain in the same home even though, for all intents and purposes, the marriage is over, it may be a good idea to work out some sort of legal agreement. A postnuptial agreement can detail a division of assets if and when you legally end the marriage.

You may want to separate parts of your financial life as well, while ensuring that the children are provided for. A New York family law attorney can provide guidance on what legal steps you should take to protect yourself and your children in this new arrangement.

Source: Huffington Post, "Why This New Alternative To Divorce Has People Scared," Susan Pease Gadoua, Aug. 30, 2016

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