Can You Really Be Separated If You Live under the Same Roof?


Whenever it comes to a legal matter, an outcome is rarely cut and dried. Often, it may come down to a subtle nuance in the language or an individual interpretation, while at other times magistrates or judges may look at similar case law to give them an indication, before they render their verdict. This is why it is very difficult for the average person to anticipate how a certain matter will play out in front of the courts and this is especially true when it comes to separation or divorce.

There is certainly no black and white decision to be made here and your case may well be decided on its own merits. For example, how do you really prove that you are separated, when you are still living in the same place?

An impartial observer might conclude that two people who were formerly married and are still living under the same roof are, by definition, still legally classified. Logic might dictate that this should be the case as after all, if they really didn't like to be with one another as a "couple," then why are they still living in the same house? In truth, there can be many different reasons for this, which the law recognises. Even though regulations say that these parties must have lived separate and apart for a period of a year before they can file for divorce, it's the definition of "separate and apart" that needs to be carefully addressed.

It's estimated that tens of thousands of Australians may live together in one building even though they are separated and if divorce is to be successful in this situation, they need to be able to show that they are living their separate lives. They may be able to prove that this is a better financial situation for them as one or other of the parties may not have been able to afford to live separately, especially if a child was involved. Furthermore, they may say that this is in the best interests of that child as it demonstrates a more cohesive family unit and is less traumatic going forward.

Nevertheless, if you're in this situation you must be careful to demonstrate this level of separation. While you may well be able to prepare and eat meals together especially at family time, it's best if you formally separate bank accounts and split your social lives.

If you plan to file for divorce but are not 100% sure if you are exhibiting the right signs in legal terms, you should ask a divorce lawyer for guidance before you proceed.


28 August 2018

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Hello, my name is Victor and last year was one of the worst years of my life. I was going through a tough divorce. I had to work out how to divide my money, the house I owned with my wife as well as organising who was going to get access to the kids. The only thing that got me through this entire experience was my wonderful divorce attorney. He explained exactly what I needed to do to get the best outcome and represented me in court. I'm now ready to move on with my life and make the most of the future.