How Is It Possible to Be Separated but Living Under the Same Roof?

Australian law allows two people who have separated for at least one year to apply for a formal divorce. At the end of that period, they need to prove that their relationship has broken down completely and cannot continue, but it may only take one person to actually proceed with the case for a court to rule. Yet, the law does allow both parties to continue living under the same roof while this 12 month period ticks away, and if you find yourself in this position, how can you prove that you are effectively separated?

Providing Proof

When it comes to providing such proof, much will depend on the point of view of both parties. If both people agree to the divorce and the situation is amicable, there should be no objection from the court at the end of the year. If the other person does not agree, you may have to present your case and serve them with papers so they know what's going on.

Children First

If you have children together, your first responsibility will be towards them. Of course, you'll want to manage any disruption, and for this reason alone, you may think that it's best to stay under the same roof for the time being. Apart from this, it may be more financially practical to share accommodation, but you should take some steps to manage the situation if you do.

Sleeping and Living Arrangements

If you have a spare bedroom, move in there instead. You can then assume the position of a lodger who has access to common areas, the bathroom and the kitchen as and when needed. If you used to prepare meals for each other, it's best if you go solo from now on, and if you used to socialise in the community over the weekend, this would need to change.

Handling the Children

Certainly, the situation can become complex where children also live on the property. It can be a tough call, but it may be best to sit down with them and explain what's going on. If, as adults, you simply cannot avoid any animosity, you'll certainly want to keep it out of their view and try to lead as normal a life as possible going forward.

Financial Matters

As far as finances are concerned, try to maintain separate bank accounts. Both parties should still contribute if you have a joint bank account for utilities and other essential household bills. Alternatively, one party could take over responsibility for all of the bills, but you will need to discuss items like spousal maintenance or child support to make the entire situation as equitable as possible.

Legal Advice

If you're still unsure how to proceed but want to do everything the right way, talk with your family lawyer. They'll explain what it means to be "separate" so that you will not run into any problems during the hearing.

Consult with a law firm, such as P J Griffin & Co, to discuss your divorce.