What is Separation Under One Roof?

Separation Under One Roof

By cropped movement legal

· Read time: 6 minutes

Separation under one roof is when a married or defacto couple separate while continuing to live in the same home.

Separation under one roof is a unique though not uncommon situation that many couples find themselves in when they decide to end their defacto relationship or marriage but continue living together in the same physical space. 

What Does Separation Under the Same Roof Mean?

Separation under one roof, in simple terms, refers to a scenario where a couple who has chosen to end their relationship or marriage continues to reside together in the same physical dwelling. This may be for financial, practical, and/or child related reasons.

This might sound contradictory, but it’s a reality for many individuals in strained relationships.

How Do You Know if You Are ‘Separated Under One Roof’?

Determining whether you are truly experiencing separation under one roof involves considering a few key factors:

Separate Finances

Are you and your partner still sharing financial responsibilities like joint bank accounts and bills, or have you taken steps to financially disentangle yourselves? 

Separating finances is a strong indicator of being separated under one roof.

Sleeping Separately

The physical aspect of separation is crucial. Are you and your partner sharing a bed and maintaining physical intimacy, or have you started sleeping in separate rooms or even separate beds within the same dwelling? 

Sleeping separately often signifies emotional and physical detachment.

The Social Aspects of the Relationship

Beyond the physical and financial aspects, consider the social dynamics. 

Are you and your partner still engaging in social activities together, or have you started leading separate lives when it comes to social interactions? 

An independent social life can indicate separation.

Sexual Relationship

Are you and your partner still engaging in sexual activities, or has the physical intimacy ceased? 

Lack of sexual activity does not necessarily mean that the relationship has ended. However it can be a sign of emotional detachment.

The Committed Nature of the Relationship

Lastly, think about the level of commitment in your relationship. Are you and your partner openly discussing divorce or separation, or is there a mutual understanding that the relationship is no longer viable?

Willingness to acknowledge and discuss the end of the relationship is a strong indicator of separation under one roof.

Take note: for family law purposes, it can be important to be able to place a specific date as to when separation occurred.

Can You Live Together for Some or Even All of the Time You Are Separated?

Living at the same address during a separation period is a practical reality for many couples. It’s essential to understand that separation is not solely defined by physical living arrangements. 

Emotional and practical aspects also play a significant role. If you have lived at the same address for some or all of the separation period, it doesn’t necessarily negate the possibility of being separated.

Other Things to Consider When Living Separated Under One Roof

Living together with a partner that you have separated from can be stressful at the best of times. Do what you can to prioritise your mental and emotional well being.

One issue that frequently arises is around safeguarding privacy. Some pro tips:

  • Change all phone and computer passwords – for both devices as well as accounts (eg banking, social media, email)
  • Safeguard Important Documents: Keep all your mail, emails, and legal correspondence in a secure location that is inaccessible to your former partner or spouse. This protects sensitive information and maintains confidentiality.
  • Prioritise Quality Time with Children: If you have children, make arrangements to ensure both you and your partner have dedicated one-on-one time with them. This allows for meaningful connections and individual bonding with the child or children involved.
  • Legal Advice: Consult with a family law specialist to understand the legal implications of your separation and divorce. They can guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected.

Can You Get Divorced While Continuing to Live Together?

It is possible to initiate divorce proceedings while still residing together. In Australia, in order to apply for divorce you will need to demonstrate that you have been separated for 12 months. This can include periods of having been separated whilst living together. 

There is no requirement that you must be living apart at the date of the divorce hearing, or when applying for divorce.

How Do You Prove to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) That You Have Separated?

When applying for divorce, you will need to demonstrate that you have been separated for 12 months If there has been separation under one roof, that will be mentioned in the filed affidavit.

How Do You Write an Affidavit?

You will need to prepare a detailed affidavit outlining the key aspects of your separation, including your living arrangements, financial separation, and child custody arrangements. 

How Do You Prepare a Third-Party or Witness Affidavit?

You can also ask a trusted third party, such as a friend or family member, to provide a witness affidavit confirming the details of your separation. This can strengthen your case.

Tips for Writing an Affidavit

When writing your affidavit, ensure it is clear, concise, and well-organised. Include specific dates and events that demonstrate your separation. If you are using a lawyer they will be very familiar with this process and can assist you with all the requirements. 


Will Your Government Payments Change if You’re Separated but Living Under One Roof?

Centrelink payments and benefits may be affected by your relationship status. If you are legally separated and meet the criteria for individual eligibility, your government payments may change. 

It is possible that you may be entitled to a higher amount of money as an individual rather than as a couple.

You should complete the Separated under one roof form (SS293) with Services Australia.

It is always a good idea to notify relevant government agencies(eg Centelink, Services Australia) about your change in circumstances to avoid future issues or refund requests.

If You’re Still Living Together, How Can You Prove That You’re Separated?

Proving separation while living together can be challenging. To establish your case, ensure you have documentation of separate finances, sleeping arrangements, and communication about the end of the relationship. 

Consult with legal professionals for guidance on providing evidence to the court.

Tips for Writing an Affidavit

When writing an affidavit, be honest, clear, and concise. Include specific details, dates, and events related to your separation. Seek legal advice to ensure your affidavit meets the requirements of the court.

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