LIFESTYLE

Susanna Reid And Dominic Cotton: Is It Possible To Live Harmoniously With Your Ex?

26/11/2014 12:40 GMT | Updated 26/11/2014 13:59 GMT

Despite breaking up more than a year ago, TV presenter Susanna Reid and her ex-partner Dominic Cotton still live in the same house.

The couple were together for 16 years and have three children together, although they never married. But despite the break-up they have decided not to part ways - even though Cotton has got a new girlfriend.

“We still get on so well, Dom is still such a hands-on dad and we really co-parent,” she told The Sun's Fabulous magazine.

“We live separately but together and happily in the same house. I'm not saying everybody can do it and I definitely think people are surprised that we can do it this way."

susanna reid

She adds: “There have been feelings hurt along the way, obviously, but Dom and I had a takeaway together last night, a good chat and he's a great friend of mine."

While Reid and Cotton's set-up might seem unusual, it is not unheard of. Christine Northam, a relationship expert at Relate, says there are multiple reasons that a couple may stay together - some are out of necessity, others are out of choice.

"It's often due to financial worries, they may have a business together or be unable to afford a second property for one partner to move into," she tells HuffPost UK Lifestyle. "Of course another cited reason will be for the children and to keep the family unit intact."

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But is continuing to live together really in the "best interest" of the children?

"Most childrens' lives revolve around the home," explains Northam. "And for this to break down can be difficult for children."

Suzi Godson, The Times sex columnist and HuffPost UK blogger says: "Kids need to know that they are loved by, and have access to both parents. They need to feel safe and they need to know that they won’t be used as pawns in a war which is about parental revenge not their wellbeing.

"Splitting always hurts children but the damage that is done by parents prior to separation causes as much, if not more, hurt and anxiety."

It's vital for separating parents to be honest with their children and to establish a trustful relationship. "I would recommend sitting down with the children and explain that you are breaking up, but to reassure that the break-up will not damage or affect the family set-up," say Northam.

For the set-up to work in practice, Northam says couples will need to rewrite the rules.

"The relationship has a completely different set of boundaries. Before you were lovers and intimate, and suddenly you're just friends," she says. "I would advise my clients to draw up a new 'contract' or set of rules to try to live by. And it is up to each couple to figure out what these are and how to manage them."

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Northam explains that the living situation could be difficult especially when one finds a new partner.

"Living with your ex in the house you once shared, you’d be surrounded by the memories of the lost relationship," she says. "Suddenly you're no longer lovers or intimate, so there could be a sense of loss and lingering anger. This becomes more difficult when a new partner is introduced, you have to be truly over the relationship not to become angry."

Of course, not every co-habiting break-up will be as (seemingly) rose coloured as Reid and Cotton's. Suzi Godson, The Times sex columnist who writes a weekly blog for HuffPost UK, explains that unmarried couples who live together are often unaware of their legal rights.

"Half of people (51%) in the UK still falsely believe that cohabiting couples have rights as 'common law' spouses. Only 38% know that common law marriage does not exist," she writes in a recent blog.

"In the UK when a cohabiting relationship ends, neither partner has a legal duty to support the other financially. If your partner is the sole owner of the property you live in, you may have no rights to remain in the home if you are asked to leave."

What do you think of Reid and Cotton's decision to live together, but separated? Let us know in the comments below.

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