Rosemary Black of the NY Post points out that although Aguilera has filed for divorce from husband Jordan Bratman, she can't force him to move out of their house. Explains lawyer Robert Brandt, "Under California law, if you are going through a divorce, one party cannot ask the other to leave just because they're not getting along. Even if the house is in just one person's name, as long as they are married they have equal rights of possession." The only exception is if one spouse is threatening or abusive, but, says Brandt, "You have to have really good evidence of threats or violence. There has to be some really nasty stuff going on – threats, comments, unauthorized touching, that sort of thing."
It's probably a good thing that a divorcing spouse can't just kick his or her partner out — that would mean one party's dissatisfaction with a marriage could suddenly make the other homeless. But a shared living space can create pretty big problems for divorcing couples. Aguilera's lucky in that she has the money to seek out other options. The Post says she's "living out of a suitcase" — but at a "luxury hotel." Those without the money for this option may find themselves living with an ex for long periods of time, or even delaying divorce because they can't sell their house. At the height of the financial crisis, analyst Lisa Decker told the Times, "We're finding the husband on one floor, the wife on the other. Now one is coming home with a new boyfriend or girlfriend, and it's creating a layer to relationships that we haven't seen before."
The two-floor strategy only works if you have multiple floors in the first place — bringing home a new significant other is a lot harder if you're still sharing the same small apartment. Or even the same bed — divorce lawyer Sari Freedman tells the Post she's seen spouses who are "both so angry that they will even continue to sleep in the same bed because they don't want to give up their territorial right to the house." Then there's Dr. Nicholas Bartha, who allegedly blew up the house he'd shared with his ex-wife so that she couldn't live in it. Obviously most breakups don't get this extreme — but money or a lease or a combination of the two have forced lots of people to cohabit when they're no longer a couple. Some manage to navigate this situation amicably enough — but for a lot of lovers-turned-roommates, Aguilera's version of "living out of a suitcase" probably sounds pretty good.