Re: divorce in cohousing
From: Lyle Scheer (
Date: Wed, 12 Feb 2014 08:00:45 -0800 (PST)
OK... first an admission.  I'm the half of a divorce in Ashland
cohousing that I think triggered this discussion request from Doug.

However... I agree with all Diana here said as well as what Cataya said
in a previous email about a policy like this causing *more* stress in
the situation.

One of the trickiest parts in my personal divorce was around who stayed
in co-housing... neither of us wanted to leave.  To have a policy that
automatically forces one to leave just piles more stress on to the whole

To have an ex that is shunned by some portion of the community while
living right next door is a terrible situation, confusing for the kids,
and I would not wish it on anybody.

- Lyle

On 2/10/14, 7:03 PM, Diana Carroll wrote:
> 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
> all.
> 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.
> Diana
> 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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