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Can Separated Couples Who Still Live Together Apply For Divorce?

03 · 10 · 22

Spouses must be separated for 12 months to apply for divorce, leaving many family law clients unsure of what will happen if they continue to live with their ex following a relationship breakdown. This blog explains what occurs when you are separated from your spouse but still living under the same roof. 

Former partners continuing to live together was quite a common occurrence during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown when people had restricted movement and uncertain employment and housing prospects. This is also quite a common occurrence in situations where spouses are attempting to negotiate or resolve a property settlement and/or there are children of the marriage and parenting arrangements are being negotiated. 

If you and your spouse lived in the same house during part or all of the 12-month separation period, you need to provide extra information when filing your Application for Divorce with the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia.  

If you and your spouse file a joint Application for Divorce, then you and your spouse will each need to file your respective affidavits. 

If you file a sole Application for Divorce, then in addition to filing the Application for Divorce and your affidavit, you will need to arrange for a third party witness to also swear an affidavit confirming they have observed you and your spouse living separately under the one roof. This witness may be a family member, friend, neighbour or work colleague. 

The affidavits need to illustrate that although you and your spouse are living under one roof, you are not living together as a couple.

For example: 

  1. You and your spouse have separate bedrooms and/or have changed sleeping arrangements;  
  2. You and your spouse are no longer physically intimate; 
  3. You and your spouse no longer undertake home duties for each other, such as cleaning, cooking, etc. 
  4. You and your spouse no longer socialise together with family members or friends; 
  5. You and/or your spouse have notified government departments such as Centrelink that you are separated under one roof; 
  6. You and/or your spouse have notified family members, friends, neighbours, work colleagues etc, that you are separated but remain living and the same roof
  7. Your and/or your spouse have opened separate bank accounts and are commencing the process of separating financially; and 
  8. The circumstances of why you and your spouse remain living separated under one roof, such as negotiating on a property settlement, difficulty in finding alternate housing or wishing to parent the children of the marriage under one roof. 
If you would like assistance in preparing your Application for Divorce, please do not hesitate to contact our office at (03) 5536 9111.

Anderson Family Lawyers