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Separation Under One Roof

Recent reports in both Australia and North America reveal that an increasing number of married couples who have separated are remaining living under the same roof following their separation. The majority of couples that maintain this arrangement do so for financial reasons. In Australia, the number of couples separated under the same roof spiked during the global financial crisis and has not reduced. For many the decision to remain living together, at least temporarily, is based on factors such as high rent prices and being unable to afford a second household.
There is also another group who chose to remain living together after separation by choice. Rather than approaching separation under the same roof as a temporary arrangement, such couples see it as a permanent arrangement that affords them the opportunity to continue living in the same house as their children. While traditional wisdom dictates that this is not a good idea for myriad reasons, proponents of the arrangement say it allows them to continue living with their children in spite of the separation and means that they don’t miss out on daily activities within the household.
Regardless of the driving factors behind the decision to remain living together after separation, from a family law perspective, the arrangement will have no legal significance unless the ‘couple’ want to get divorced or have a dispute that requires resolution by the family law courts.
The Family Law Act recognises that parties can be separated even if they are living under the same roof. At section 49 (2) it is provided that,
“parties to a marriage may be held to have separated and to have lived separately and apart notwithstanding that they have continued to reside in the same residence or that either party has rendered some household services to the other”.
A condition of making an application for divorce is that parties be separated for one year. Those couples that remain living under the same roof and wish to divorce can still do so but are required to file evidence in support of their application, to establish that they have been separated for the requisite period of time.
Nicholes Family Lawyers can assist with applications for divorce, property and parenting matters after separation. Please do not hesitate to contact us on 9670 4122 should you require assistance in this regard.

By Nicholes Family Lawyers


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