I am often told by one of the parties that they are separated under one roof but as it turns out their view of separation while living under one roof means they are no longer having a sexual relationship with their partner, but in all other respects life goes on as normal.
Not maintaining a sexual relationship is not a determinate of being separated under one roof, or at all. There needs to be more than simply a cessation of a sexual relationship to bring about the end of a relationship. Rather the parties must show that there’s a greater separation of their lives in a variety of aspects.
For the purposes of a divorce, the party seeking the divorce in such circumstances must show they’re living independently of the other and have done so for more than 12 months. There are a variety of reasons why a couple choose to live separately under one roof, for example while working out the division of property where until the issues are resolved, neither party can afford to maintain a separate residence. It makes economic good sense in those circumstances, particularly when there’s the care of children involved, but it is not always a comfortable arrangement.
Where there’s an additional room in the home or separate accommodation, some parties often choose to take up separate bedrooms. Moving into a separate bedroom often but not always, spells the end of the relationship. The most important part is for the parties to live independent lives, both socially, financially, and physically.
Parties wishing to demonstrate that they are living under one roof will have to demonstrate that they no longer socialize together, grocery shop together, prepare and eat meals together, and present themselves to the world as separated. In such a situation, as in any separation, the parties should especially separate their finances as much as possible.
Family and friends should also be told, as well as any government department which may require this information.
Changing the beneficiaries on a super fund is also an indicator, as is changing your Will and severing a tenancy in any jointly owned property. A severance of tenancy means that when a fresh Will is made, in the event of death before a property division, the Will follows the testator’s directions, thus preserving the testator’s estate.
Separation under one roof is generally only a temporary measure while working out property division or testing the real estate market or the relative financial positions of the parties. However where there are issues of domestic violence, your safety is paramount. The financial aspects are not as important as your safety. Do not hesitate to contact the police in such circumstances, it is better to move out and rent property until property division is finalised than put your safety at risk.
When it comes time for divorce, unless the Divorce Application is joint then the person making the application will need to make an Affidavit in support of the Divorce Application outlining how they have led a life separate from the former partner.
In closing a word about separating as parents with adult children. It is in some ways more difficult than when there are young children. In either case the children, adult or not, need to hear the news from both parents, preferably at the same time and from the same song sheet. In either case the reasons for separation are the parties business not that of the children. In both circumstances young and adult children need to be reassured that they are not the reason for separation, that both parents still love them and will be there for them. Keep it classy and keep it civilised. You will still have a long way to go as parents.