Have you head the term ‘separation under one roof’? With the spiralling cost-of-living crisis in Australia currently, this is becoming more and more commonplace when couples split.
We’ve put together everything you need to know about separation under one roof.
Legal Definition of Separation Under One Roof
Under Australian Family Law it is mandatory for a couple to have been separated for a period of at least 12 months before applying for a divorce.
In many cases, it is not possible for either party to live in a separate home and so the law allows for such couples to continue living under one roof, despite their marriage or relationship being irretrievably broken down.
Certain criteria do however need to be met for a couple to be legally considered separated under one roof. It can be a complex and difficult affair requiring professional legal advice.
Some of the key criteria to prove separation under one roof include things like:
- Sleeping in different rooms
- Having no emotional or intimate contact
- Separation of household activities such as cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping
- Separation of finances such as banking, superannuation, insurances, wills, and debts
- Changes to child care arrangements
- Changing shared contact details to individual ones
- Attending events and socialising separately and not as a couple/family
Why Choose to Separate but Stay Living Together?
The most common reason for separating couples choosing to live together is most often a purely financial decision.
It is often not financially possible for a couple to be able to afford two separate homes overnight, even though it may not be an ideal situation. It can add to the tension that may already exist between the two partners, and it requires much planning, patience and tolerance to make it work.
How Long Can We Be Separated Under One Roof?
In most cases, married or de facto couples need to be separated for at least 12 months before applying for a divorce or separation.
A 24-month separation period is required for de facto relationships.
This applies whether you are separated under one roof or have moved into different properties.
Proving Separation Under One Roof
This is where professional legal advice becomes of paramount importance. To prove that you have separated but are still living under one roof, you would need to file a written affidavit to the Court providing the following information.
- Date of separation.
- Separate sleeping and living arrangements.
- There is no emotional or intimate relationship.
- You have no future joint plans.
- Finances have been separated and
- Household bills have been separated. While joint mortgage bond or rent payments are often accepted all other expenses must be split.
- There is no financial support to one another.
- Reasons for remaining under one roof.
- Families and close friends have been informed that you are no longer a couple and you both have been socialising separately.
- Provide a list of government departments you have notified of the changes in your marital or relationship status.
Can You Get Divorced While Separated Under One Roof?
Provided you have lived separately for the mandatory 12- or 24-month period and you have the necessary documentation, you can most certainly apply for a divorce while being separated under one roof.