In Australia, we are noticing a rise in couples separating but continuing to live under the same roof. Often the arrangement to continue living together post-separation is for a short period i.e.: weeks or months.  

However, given the current cost of living crisis that many Australian families are currently experiencing, we are seeing a rise in couples continuing to live together indefinitely after deciding to separate. 

Can I separate whilst living under the same roof as my partner/spouse?

Yes! – if you and your partner continue living together during part, or all, of the 12-month separation period, you will be required to provide additional information to the Court before being able to apply for a divorce.  

To apply for a divorce, you will need to file:

  • your normal Divorce Application (a guided application is available online at, 
  • a certified copy of your marriage certificate, 
  • proof of Australian citizenship or eligible visa (if applicable) 
  • AND you must also submit an Affidavit with your divorce application about being separated under the same roof.

Noting your Date of Separation is Important 

For the purposes of applying for divorce or property proceedings you need to be clear on ‘your date of separation’   This is because 

  1. you can apply for a divorce once you have been separated for at least one year, or, 
  2. if you are in a de facto relationship you have two years from the date of separation to issue proceedings in a Court for a property settlement.   

Evidence to prove separation.

There are 3 main factors that you would need to provide evidence of in your Affidavit to prove that you are separated under the same roof. These are: 

Financial Separation 

You may need to provide the Court with evidence to prove that you are no longer financially dependent on one another. For example: 

  • Closing any joint bank accounts or credit cards; 
  • Opening your own bank accounts/credit cards; 
  • Dividing the cost of household bills and having receipts to show what is paid from your individual bank account; 
  • Changing the nominated beneficiary/ies for your superannuation or life insurance; 
  • Having your wage or payment being made into your own bank account
  • Notification to government instrumentalities that you have separated
  • Claiming that you no longer have a spouse on your tax return 

Physical Separation 

This is also an important aspect to prove to the Court that you are separated. You can show physical separation by taking the following steps:  

  • Change your sleeping arrangements, for example, moving yourself and your belongings into a spare room; 
  • Create a roster system for all household chores, such as washing or cooking meals for the family, 
  • This may mean that you do your own shopping, cooking and washing and only assist with these tasks for your children; and
  • Cease any physical/sexual relationship you may still share with each other.

Social Separation 

The following can also be examples as evidence of separation.  These may include: 

  • Going out with friends separately; 
  • Not attending social or family events together as a couple eg. Church, social groups, sporting events, school events etc. 
  • No longer planning family holidays together; and 
  • Confiding in friends, family or neighbours that your relationship has broken down. 

Extra care also needs to be taken if there are also still young children living under the same roof.

Keep to routines, stay friendly and minimise any conflict in front of the children.  

If possible, explain to them together what is happening and what it will mean for the children and provide reassurance.  

Try and come up with a roster between yourself and your former spouse/partner as to time that each parent will spend with the children that considers to the best interests of your children and that minimises any impact on the children’s own sporting/education/extra-curricular/social routine.

Also remember: safety first! 

Do not continue living under the same roof if you have concerns about your safety or there has been, or are threats of, domestic violence towards you, the children or any pets, or your former partner/spouse has made threats of self harm. 

To protect yourself, gather all of your personal paperwork and valuables and consider storing them separately.  You may wish to ensure that you change the passwords on any shared computers or for your social media and bank accounts. 

We can help give you advice on your rights if you are in this situation and refer you to appropriate support services whether you are a female, male, child, LGBTIQ couple, a grandparent or extended family member.

Separation is stressful and can be distressing.  Have your friends and family around you for support.  

And make sure that you see a lawyer who cares about you!

If you require any assistance, please contact our office, we are here to help guide you through this process.

How to cope with Separating under the same roof: 

Separating from your partner is one of the most difficult experiences you may go through in your life, and the idea of continuing to live with them and having to see them each can be very hard for some people. 

However, there can be some benefits of continuing to reside together after separation (when there is no risk of family of domestic violence):  such as stability for your children – where their routines do not have to change too much and financial assistance, as the  cost of living is quite high in Australia at the moment and going from a dual income home to a single income home can be a massive strain. 

It is important to set boundaries with one another and be able to be respectful of each other’s personal choices while remaining living together. 

We suggest taking the following steps to transition to your new way of life: 

  1. Plan your living arrangements – where each person will sleep, if you are dividing household chores and how meal times etc will work going forward; 
  2. Create a budget – to prevent future arguments, it is a good idea to set a budget around utilities, mortgage/rent, groceries, children’s activities and other school fees and any other household expenses; 
  3. Discuss a parenting schedule – whether it be dividing the weekends, who will be taking the children to school and their activities. Do not put the children in the middle or try to make them take sides, try to make the transition as smooth as possible for them. 
  4. Discuss future dating – come to a mutual understanding around dating new people. Be honest with each other and make a plan that is respectful to both of you. 

Although it may seem impossible in the beginning, if you try to always keep communication lines open with your former partner, it will become easier to share the same spaces in your home. 

Protecting your Privacy while being separated under the same roof: 

Although you are both navigating through this separation and trying to find the new normal. We have a few tips to protect your privacy during this time: 

  • change all passwords to your phone, email address, social media accounts and internet banking; 
  • ensure that if you are receiving any legal advice that you take the call in private, whether it be when no one else is home, in your car, or even leaving the family home for the time of the meeting; and
  • Remove all important personal documents from the home, such as your Birth Certificate, passport, insurance documents etc and keep them safely with a friend or family member.

Who can you reach out to for guidance through this time: 

If you need any emotional support during this time, there is many organisations that are easily accessible by following one of the links below: 

For Children: 

For adults: 


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