Separation under one roof can occur when the parties to a relationship separate but continue to live in the same home. This is most often due to financial reasons but could also be due to one person not wanting to leave the matrimonial home, or if there are children of the relationship. In this article, we look at what separation under one roof means, how to amicably navigate your separation and how to protect yourself if you choose to continue living together.

What does separation under the one roof mean?

For parties to be ‘separated under one roof’ they both agree and acknowledge that the relationship has irretrievably broken down. When you do make the decision to separate, it is important to note down the exact date for two reasons:

  • separation must come before you can make an application for either divorce or property settlement matters, including maintenance matters; and
  • there are time limitations that start from the day of separation in applications for divorce, and in property settlements, including spousal maintenance applications.

Can you get divorced while still living together?

You can apply for a divorce whilst being separated under one roof, provided that there is evidence you have been separated for at least 12 months, which is the standard requirement for any divorce application.

If you and your former partner or spouse are separated under one roof, it means that you will have to provide additional information to the Court as proof that you are both separated, before a divorce can be granted. The Court may request that you provide evidence of the following:

  • a change in sleeping arrangements;
  • a reduction in joint activities with your former spouse or partner, i.e., no longer socialising together or attending functions together that you would otherwise have attended in the past;
  • a decline in shared household activities, including cooking or doing laundry for each other, and eating meals together;
  • the division of financial contributions and resources, by closing joint bank accounts and paying for bills or utilities separately and from your individual incomes;
  • whether friends and family have been notified of the breakdown of your relationship or marriage and if it is publicly known that separation has occurred;
  • notifications to government departments or institutions that you are no longer in a relationship with your former spouse or partner, (i.e., informing Centrelink that you are single or requesting Medicare cards with your sole names on them).

Splitting finances while being separated under one roof

It is important to ensure finances are split following a separation. This can include severing any joint bank accounts, splitting payments of bills and utilities and updating any Wills, superannuation and insurance policies. You will also need to notify any government agencies of the separation, including Centrelink as this may change your entitlements.

It is recommended to speak to an experienced family lawyer about how to best separate your finances, even during the separation under the same roof stage as this may impact any future family law proceedings.

Other factors to consider while being separated under one roof

Separation under one roof can be difficult for both parties involved. Some ways to ensure you can maintain your privacy, can include:

  • Locking all electronic devices with a secure password.
  • Changing your passwords on all email and social media accounts, mobile phone and iPad.
  • Keeping all your mail, emails and correspondence from your legal representative in a safe place away from your former partner or spouse.
  • If you have children, ensure that both you and your partner have time alone with the child/ren.

Need advice on your separation or family law matter?

If you are separated under one roof and trying to navigate family law proceedings, including financial or parenting matters, our experienced Sydney family lawyers are here to assist. Contact us today on (02) 9262 4003 for a no-obligation consultation or submit an online enquiry.  

The content of this article is intended as a general guide to the subject matter. For specific legal advice about your individual circumstances, please contact our experienced lawyers.

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