How Do I Prove I’m Separated Under One Roof?

If you and your partner are considering a divorce, then it’s more than likely that you’ve also considered living separately during the process. However, while it is a requirement to be separated for a period of 12 months prior to being able to make an application for a divorce, it is not a requirement for parties to live apart after they’ve decided to separate.

In fact, it’s common for couples who are separated to live together, even if this is just for a short period of time, following the breakdown of their relationship. This is known as being ‘separated under one roof’.  In this article, we’ll explain all you need to know about applying for a divorce if you have separated from your partner but have remained living together ‘under one roof’.

Why Do People Separate Under One Roof?

Separation is a difficult time for both parties. However, there are several reasons why separated couples continue to live together in the short term, including (but certainly not limited to):

  • Financial reasons – If you’ve already budgeted your household income and now need to work out your personal income following the split, it can be difficult to budget initially. For this reason, many separated couples continue living together because they cannot afford to pay rent or a mortgage on their own.
  • Stability for children – If there are children from the marriage, moving out of the former matrimonial home might be particularly difficult for both parents and children alike. For this reason, many separated couples continue to live together in order to provide some stability for the children in the short term. In practical terms for the parents, this can also assist them in reaching a resolution about their future parenting responsibilities and make decisions about where the children will live and how much time they will spend with each parent, as they can discuss these arrangements together before physically moving out of the former matrimonial home.
  • Convenience – Many of us choose our family home because it’s close to work or school. For this reason, it’s often easier and more convenient for couples to live together for a period until similarly convenient arrangements can be made. 

How Do We Prove that We’re Separated Under One Roof?

If you and your partner continue living together for all or part of the 12-month separation period, you will need to provide the court with an Affidavit (along with your Application for Divorce) that deposes to a change in the marriage, whether gradual or sudden, and that evidences that speaks to the fact that while you are still living together, you and your spouse have still in fact, separated.

You may also need to file an Affidavit of a third party (or parties) to provide evidence of your separation as well.

Your Affidavit should explain why you continued to live together following separation and  should also try to cover the following factors to show that while a physical separation has not occurred, there has been a breakdown in the relationship and no reasonable likelihood that the relationship will resume: 

  1. Any changes to the financial aspects of the relationship following separation– For example, closing down joint accounts, opening of separate bank accounts, or changing the responsibility for payment of liabilities;  
  2. Any changes to the nature of the household – For example, giving evidence that you no longer share a bedroom, cook meals for one another or complete household chores for one another;
  3. Any changes to the social aspects of the relationship – For example, giving evidence as to when family and friends were notified of the relationship breakdown or giving evidence to show you are no longer treated as a couple socially (e.g. you are no longer invited to social events together that you were invited to as a couple or would have been invited to as a couple during your relationship);
  4. The absence of a sexual relationship;
  5. Any changes to the nature of your commitment to one another– For example, whether there has been a withdrawal of intimacy, companionship and support to the other party;
  6. What government departments you have advised of your separation if you receive a government benefit (e.g. Centrelink).

If you and your partner are separating prior to a divorce and would like advice about ‘separation under one roof’, please contact us on 07 3837 5500 or get started online. We can handle all aspects of your separation and divorce and guide you through what can often be a difficult and confusing process.