What does it mean to be separated under the one roof?

separated under one roof

Separation under one roof is a legal term that refers to a situation where two people who are married or in a de facto relationship are living in the same house but are no longer living as a couple. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as financial constraints, childcare arrangements, or a desire to avoid conflict.

There is no single definition of what separation under one roof means, as the circumstances of each case will vary. However, there are some common factors that courts will consider when determining whether or not a couple is separated under one roof. These factors include:

  • The couple’s sleeping arrangements. Are they sleeping in the same, or separate bedrooms?  Are they intimate?  
  • The couple’s financial arrangements. Are they sharing finances and expenses?
  • The couple’s social activities. Are they spending time together socially?  Would friends and family believe that the parties are separated or a couple?
  • The couple’s communication. Are they communicating with each other?  What are the communications like?  
  • The couple’s intentions. Do they intend to reconcile?

The parties intentions are a large component of whether or not a Court would decide the parties are separated or not.  In one case before the Court, the parties were considered to be separated under one roof, even though they were still sharing a bed.  The court found that the couple had ceased to function as a married couple in all other respects such as finances and communications, and that they had no intention of reconciling. Separation or a date of separation does not need to be communicated in writing or words it can be by conduct. 

It is important to remember:

  • It is not a legal requirement to live separately in order to get a divorce. However, if you are separated under one roof, you may need to provide additional evidence to the court to prove that your marriage has irretrievably broken down for a divorce to be granted.  
  • It is also not a legal requirement for the parties to live separately to undertake a property settlement.  Quite often due to financial constraints the parties remain living together until cash/property can be realised to allow one or both parties to vacate the former matrimonial home. 

If you are facing separation under one roof, there are a few things you can do to make the process easier:

  • Set boundaries. It is important to set clear boundaries with your ex-partner, both physically and emotionally. This can include sleeping in separate bedrooms, not sharing finances, and avoiding unnecessary contact.
  • Seek support. Talking to a counsellor, psychologist, or trusted friend or family member can help you cope with the emotional challenges of separation.
  • Focus on your children. If you have children, it is important to put their needs first. This means making arrangements for their care and communicating effectively with your ex-partner about them.
  • Take care of yourself. It is important to make sure you are taking care of yourself physically and emotionally during this time. This may include eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep.

Separation under one roof can be a difficult experience, but it is important to remember that you are not alone. In addition to your family lawyer, there are resources available to help you through this process, including Legal Aid, Family Relationships Centre and Lifeline. Where eligible, you may also be able to access financial assistance from the government to assist you with the separation process.  

Separation under one roof is a complex issue with no easy answers. However, by understanding the meaning of separation under one roof and the challenges it can pose, you can make the process easier for yourself and your family.

If you are considering separation under one roof, it is important to speak to a lawyer to discuss your specific circumstances. Here at Gillard Family Lawyers, we have accredited specialists and experienced solicitors in the area of family law to help you manage your family law matters.

We pride ourselves on our expertise, so if you need legal help with a Family Law matter, simply get in touch with our friendly team and book your $220 fixed fee initial consultation.