Re: divorce in cohousing
From: Diana Carroll (
Date: Mon, 10 Feb 2014 19:05:45 -0800 (PST)
That sounds like a really, REALLY awful idea.  How do you think that is
going to insulate you from the impact of divorce?  I don't get that idea at

I don't know what privileges you are imagining "off-site members" have but
presumably the divorcing couple will continue to have whatever relationship
they will have, regardless of their official community status.  And if
there are children involved, then presumably it is in their best interest
for their parents to have the best possible relationship...why would you as
a community want to throw up barriers to that in any way?

This proposal is also full of so many holes and assumptions.

1-why are you assuming one of the couple will move?  They may continue to
live together.

2-if they do move, why do you assume they will move offsite?  In our
community, we have had the sad fortune to have three divorces...and the
happy fortune that in all three cases, both spouses still live in the
community, and the children are able to have both parents living close to
one another and in a shared community.

3-if your group is an HOA, owners have legal rights, whether they live
there or not.  You can't kick a homeowner out of an HOA, and the individual
may choose to continue to be involved.

4-do you really think it serves anyone's interests for the community to be
sticking its collective nose into the family business during such a
difficult time?

5-who gets to decide on whether an "exception" is granted?  You really want
your group to have to vote on whether someone who used to be a part of the
community, and may still have close ties of friendship in the community, is
allowed to be a member?  I would feel terribly uncomfortable being asked to
take sides like that.

This policy amounts to the community symbolically choosing to take sides
against the spouse who moves out.  That's just awful.

Bottom line is that I don't think this ill-conceived mean-spirited policy
would do anything to diminish the hurt and anger that accompanies divorce,
or the fallout that would simply be salt in the wound of
someone who is going through a hard time by definition.

Here at Mosaic Commons, we have a few non-resident/associate members, and
our policy is that we invite them to join by plenary decision. This is true
for people who used to be residents as well, whether their reason for
leaving was related to a change in relationship status or simply moving
out.  I can't imagine implementing a policy to preemptively block an entire
category of people from being able to join.


On Monday, February 10, 2014, Doug Huston <huston [at]> wrote:

> At times I've read on this list serve how stressful break-ups/divorces
> have been on communities.
> In our community, we are considering the following proposal:
> When a couple breaks up, the person who moves out of the community is
> automatically no longer a member of the community.
> This means he/she cannot be an off-site member, a category which exist for
> some communities.
> This would be the default situation. Exceptions could be considered. If
> after one year the member who moved out wants to re-join, the group could
> choose to consider this - or not.
> The intention behind this is to insulate the community (to some extent)
> from the common challenges, stress, and tensions which usually accompany
> break-ups, and would likely be heightened if both parties remain formally
> involved in community activities.
> We are wondering what others in communities think, and if there are
> similar or related policies regarding break-ups elsewhere in cohousing.
> Thanks for your comments in advance.
> Doug Huston - Ashland (Oregon) Cohousing Community
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