Separated Under One Roof?

“COVID-19 has forced us to live together so we can’t be separated…” Fact/Myth? 

Despite popular belief, separation can occur “under the one roof,” even if parties have continued to live in the same residence or that either party has rendered some household services to the other party, such as cooking meals, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, gardening, etc.

It is not uncommon, particularly during this COVID-19 restriction period, for separated couples (whether married or de facto) in Australia to remain living together for one reason or another, whether it is children, finance or convenience.

Given the current unpredictability and uncertainty regarding job security and the ability/capacity to earn a sustainable income, the prevailing sentiment for most people, especially for those living in rental accommodation, is to remain “living under the roof” (albeit separated) as they simply can’t afford to move into separate accommodation at this juncture. This arrangement may last for days, weeks, months or even years after separation under the one roof.

To be “separated under the one roof”, you need to be “living separately”. Some examples of “living separately” include (but are not limited to):

  • sleeping in separate bedrooms;
  • ceasing any sexual relations;
  • ceasing to sit together in meals;
  • cooking own meals;
  • doing own laundry;
  • ceasing to socialise and communicate with each other as a married/de facto couple on a genuine domestic basis;
  • ceasing to go out with each other again on family outings or other shared activities;
  • ceasing to having mutual friends around at the home;
  • telling family and/or friends that you have separated;
  • closing any joint bank accounts and setting up personal bank accounts;
  • spending time with the child/ren separately from your former spouse/partner; and
  • notifying Government Departments (such as Centrelink, the Child Support Agency and/or Immigration) that you have separated.

The above examples (whilst not “exhaustive”) are particularly relevant if the period that you live under the one roof will form part of the 12-month separation period necessary to apply for a Divorce Order in Australia. In that regard, the Court usually requires an Affidavit from you as the Applicant (and if possible, an Affidavit from a family, friend and/or neighbour) which supports the assertion that you and your former spouse have in fact separated under the one roof.

To discuss how COVID-19 specifically affects your family law matter, please contact us today on (07) 3211 4920 or visit our website: to make an initial appointment over the phone or by video-link. Please note that this post provides general legal information only and does not provide or intends to provide legal advice.