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Separating under the one roof, is this possible?

Diana ScullyFebruary 20, 2024

Separating under the one roof, is this possible?

In the realm of relationships, sometimes the decision to separate is unavoidable, yet the logistics of implementing this decision can be complex and challenging. For many Australians, particularly in the current economic climate, separation under the one roof becomes a practical necessity.

Understanding Separation Under the One Roof

Separation “under the one roof” refers to the situation where a couple decides to end their relationship but continues to reside together in the same household. There are many reasons including financial constraints, childcare arrangements or giving yourself time to organise the next steps for living arrangements that make separation under the roof the best short term solution for couples.

Legal Implications and Considerations

In Australia, the Family Law Act 1975 recognises separation under the one roof as a valid form of separation. However, if proof of separation is required for legal purposes, it’s crucial to demonstrate that the relationship has genuinely broken down. When couples physically separate by distance, this is much easier to establish, however, when separating under the one roof, demonstrating the date of separation is not always clear.

While there is no exhaustive list to explicitly follow to demonstrate that separation under one roof has successfully taken place, the following factors are good indicators to consider:

  • Informing family and friends of the separation;
  • Informing government agencies, such as Centrelink, of the separation;
  • Making changes to the financial aspects of the relationship like closing joint bank accounts, changing responsibility for liability payments etc;
  • Making different living arrangements by no longer sharing the bedroom, cooking separately and/or having different living quarters; and
  • Notifying the workplace and/or child’s school that you have separated from your partner.

While residing together, it’s essential to maintain clear boundaries and document any agreements or arrangements made regarding finances, childcare, and household responsibilities.

Financial Considerations and Budgeting

One of the primary reasons couples opt for separation under the one roof is financial necessity. Sharing a residence can significantly reduce living expenses, allowing each person time to stabilise their finances before committing to separate accommodations.

However, managing finances during this period requires an amicable level of communication between the couple to allow for careful planning. Ideally, creating a budget that clearly outlines each person’s financial responsibilities, including any changes that arise due to the separation would be highly beneficial.

Parenting Arrangements

When children are involved, separation under the one roof can present unique challenges regarding their care arrangements. Maintaining a stable and supportive environment for children amidst the separation process is paramount.

It’s essential to prioritise the best interests of the children and establish clear routines and boundaries to minimise disruption. Developing a parenting plan that outlines care arrangements between the couple and extended family as well as parental responsibilities can provide structure and stability during this transitional period.

Emotional Well-being and Self-care

Separation, even under amicable circumstances, can take a significant emotional toll on individuals involved. Practicing self-care and prioritising emotional well-being is crucial during this challenging time.

Seeking support from friends, family, or a professional counsellor can provide valuable guidance and perspective. Engaging in activities that promote relaxation, self-reflection, and personal growth can help individuals navigate the emotional complexities of separation under the one roof.

Planning for the Future

While separation under the one roof may be a temporary arrangement, it’s essential to plan for the future proactively. This may involve exploring housing options, establishing independent financial resources, and addressing any legal matters relating to the separation. Where possible, open communication and cooperation between the couple can facilitate a smoother transition towards separate living arrangements.

Seeking Professional Guidance

Navigating separation under the one roof can be a complex and an emotionally charged process. Seeking guidance from a family lawyer, financial advisors and family counsellors can provide invaluable support and expertise and we suggest obtaining all of that wisdom as soon as possible after you decide to separate.

By understanding the legal implications, addressing financial considerations, prioritising children’s well-being, and focusing on self-care, people can navigate separation under the one roof with greater clarity and confidence. Ultimately, with patience, resilience, and support, you can emerge from this challenging chapter empowered to embrace new beginnings and opportunities.


If you require assistance with the separation process, including setting up a parenting plan and how best to set up your finances post separation, please do not hesitate to contact Umbrella Family Law for advice and support.


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