In Australia you are separated when you stop living as a couple on a genuine domestic level. This requires at least one person in the relationship to make the decision to separate, act on that decision and tell the other person. Your partner doesn’t have to agree to the separation.

Can you still live in the same home?

You can be separated and still be living in the same home. You may have to prove these living arrangements to agencies like Centrelink or the Court. When deciding if you are separated under the one roof, the following is considered:

  • you no longer share a bed together and are no longer intimate with each other;
  • you no longer share meals and domestic duties as a couple, ie. you do not cook or wash for the other;
  • the nature and extent of your common residency and continued shared life (if any);
  • you have separated out your finances as far as is possible (you may still share a mortgage account and mortgage payments) and live financially independent of the other; and
  • family and friends have been informed that you have separated.

No single factor is conclusive.

Proving separation

Proving when you separated can be an important issue, for example:

  • If you choose to apply for a divorce, you must be separated for at least 12 months before you can file your Divorce Application with the Court; and
  • If you were in a de facto relationship and need to complete a property settlement, you must file your Initiating Application for Property Proceedings with the Court, within 2 years from the date of separation.

We recommend you seek legal advice when ending a marriage or de facto relationship, especially when you have children and joint property. People always appreciate being informed as to rights, options, processes and possible costs in these situations.

Call us to book your free 30 minute family law consult with an experienced family lawyer – 07 5576 6009.


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