Separated Under One Roof: A Complete Guide

heartbroken couple

Separated Under One Roof is a situation where a married or de facto couple continues to live together in the same residence despite being separated. This arrangement has become increasingly common in Australia due to the high cost of living and limited housing options. While it may seem like a practical solution to separation, it can also create legal and emotional challenges.

Legal Definition of Separated Under One Roof

The Family Law Act 1975 defines a de facto relationship as a couple who live together in a genuine domestic relationship, regardless of gender. In the case of separated couples, the law recognises that they can continue to live under the same roof as long as they have separated both physically and emotionally.


According to the Family Court of Australia, to be considered separated but living under one roof, the couple must:


  1. No longer have a sexual relationship;
  2. Have separate sleeping arrangements;
  3. Not share meals or domestic duties;
  4. Have separate finances; and
  5. Have communicated the separation to family and friends.

How to Live Separated Under One Roof?

Living under the same roof as your ex-partner can be a challenging situation. However, there are ways to make it work if both parties are committed to maintaining boundaries and respect for each other’s space. Here are some tips on how to live separated under one roof:


  1. Agree on living arrangements: Both should discuss how they will divide the living space, including separate bedrooms, storage areas, and household chores.
  2. Establish boundaries: Both parties should agree on boundaries, such as not entering each other’s bedrooms without permission or respecting each other’s privacy.
  3. Communicate effectively: Clear communication is essential in any relationship, including those that have ended. The couple should discuss any issues that arise and avoid blaming each other.
  4. Respect each other’s space: Each partner should have their own designated area where they can retreat when they need time alone.
  5. Seek support: Separation can be emotionally challenging, and it’s essential to seek support from friends, family, or a therapist.

Factors to determine if you are Separated Under One Roof

There are several factors that determine whether a couple is genuinely separated. Here are some key factors taken into account by the Court:


  • Sleeping arrangements – Do the couple have separate bedrooms and sleep separately?
  • Domestic duties – Do they share household chores, or do they have separate responsibilities?
  • Finances – Do they have joint finances, or have they separated their finances?
  • Social life – Have they told family and friends about their separation?
  • Emotional separation – Have they stopped having a sexual relationship, and do they maintain an emotional distance from each other?

Benefit of Separated Under One Roof?

There are several benefits of being Separated Under One Roof. In summary they are as follows:


Financial Savings


One of the primary benefits of this arrangement is the financial savings. Couples can share household expenses, such as rent or mortgage payments, utilities, and groceries, which can reduce the financial burden of separation.




This can also be convenient, particularly for couples with children or pets. Living under the same roof can make it easier to manage childcare and pet care arrangements and can also provide emotional support during a challenging time.


Emotional Support


Being Separated under one roof can provide emotional support as both partners adjust to the separation. Living under the same roof can provide a sense of security and familiarity, which can help with the transition.

How to Prove Separation Under One Roof?

Proving separation under one roof is essential to ensure that the Family Court recognises the separation. Here are some ways to prove separation under one roof:


Financial Separation


Couples can prove separation by separating their finances. They can open separate bank accounts and credit cards, and divide their assets and liabilities.


Separate Bedrooms


Couples should have separate bedrooms and sleeping arrangements. This can be a clear indication of physical separation.


Separate Meals


Couples should have separate meals and should not share domestic duties. They should avoid eating together, and each partner should prepare their own meals.


No Sexual Relationship


Couples should not have a sexual relationship. They should avoid physical intimacy and maintain an emotional distance from each other.




Couples should communicate to their family and friends that they have separated. They can also provide evidence, such as emails or text messages, to show that they have communicated their separation.

When seeking a divorce order or a property settlement, the above circumstances and factors will need to be outlined when you file an affidavit in support of your application.

Centrelink: Separated But Living Together

If you are separated but still living under the same roof as your ex-partner, your Centrelink payments may be affected, as Centrelink considers your income, assets, and living arrangements when determining your entitlements.


In this case, Centrelink will likely assess your relationship status as separated, but they will also take into account the fact that you are living under the same roof. This means that they may assume that you and your ex-partner are still sharing expenses, and therefore your combined income and assets may be considered when calculating your payments.


In some cases, Centrelink may also conduct a “living separate and apart” assessment, where they will examine various factors such as financial independence, domestic arrangements, social activities and social aspects of the relationship to determine whether you are living as separated partners or simply housemates. Based on their findings, they may adjust your payments accordingly.

Can I Get a Divorce While Still Living Together?

Yes, it is possible to get a divorce while still living together in Australia. The law does not require you to be living apart before you can apply for a divorce. However, you will need to show that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, which means that there is no chance of reconciling with your spouse. Accordingly, only after a legal separation in Australia you may make a divorce application.


At Lyons Law Group, our team of family lawyers is dedicated to offering committed services and making every effort to assist clients in achieving their desired outcomes. Whether you require legal advice, representation, or guidance, our top family lawyers in Sydney are readily available to help. Get in touch with Lyons Law Group today for assistance.

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