Separated but Living Together: An Emerging Trend in Australian Couples

September 15, 2023
separated but living together

Key takeaways:

  • Legal Separation Under One Roof: Couples can be legally separated but continue to live in the same house, termed as “separated under one roof.”
  • Evidence of Separate Lives: To prove their separated status while living together, couples might need evidence like separate bank accounts and independent social activities.
  • House Ownership Challenges: Post-separation living arrangements can lead to complexities around house ownership, making it essential to understand individual rights.

In modern relationships, the phrase “separated but living together” is becoming more commonplace.

As couples navigate the complex landscape of emotions and practicalities following a separation, some find themselves in a unique scenario: continuing to share a home even after their romantic relationship has ended.

This setup, often referred to as living under the same roof post-separation, may arise due to various reasons, from financial constraints to considerations for their children’s well-being.

Here, we delve into the realities, challenges, and intricacies of living together while separated.

Legalities of separated couples living together in Australia

“From a legal standpoint, living together post-separation can be a gray area. The law often requires evidence of separation, especially when it comes to formal proceedings like divorce.”

This is where things can get tricky. How do you prove you’re separated when you’re still living in the same house during the separation?

Couples may have separate bedrooms, lead individual lives, and even have distinct routines, all while sharing the same address.

For legal clarity, it’s always recommended to seek counsel and understand your rights and obligations. Remember, while the emotional and practical aspects are paramount, ensuring that you’re on the right side of the law is equally vital.

What is separation?

Separation is the legal end of a marriage or de facto relationship. It occurs when one or both partners decide that the relationship is over and that they will no longer live together as a couple.

Living together after separation

It is possible for couples to be separated but still living together. This is sometimes referred to as “separation under one roof”.

There are a number of reasons why couples may choose to live together after separation, such as financial necessity, caring for children, or trying to resolve the terms of their separation.

Financial Arrangements

Even if a couple is separated, they may still be financially interdependent. For example, they may have joint bank accounts, own property together, or have joint debts. It is important for separated couples to reach an agreement on how to manage their finances, including how to divide income and assets.

Child support

If the couple has children, they will need to make arrangements for child support. The Child Support Agency will calculate how much child support each parent should pay based on their income and the amount of time they spend with the children.

Property division

If the couple is married, they will need to divide their property in accordance with the Family Law Act 1975. The court will consider a number of factors when dividing property, including the contributions that each spouse made to the marriage, the needs of any children, and the length of the marriage.


In order to get a divorce in Australia, couples must be separated for at least 12 months. If a couple has been separated under one roof for part or all of that period, they will need to provide extra information to the court to prove that their separation is genuine.

Other legal considerations

In addition to the financial and property implications, there are a number of other legal considerations for separated couples living together.

For example, if one partner is a victim of domestic violence, they may need to seek legal advice on how to protect themselves.

Why Couples Choose to Live Together After Separation

The choice to remain in the same household after a separation is seldom taken lightly. For some, the primary driving factor is financial. The costs associated with moving out and establishing a new residence can be daunting.

Particularly, if you’re considering moving in with a partner who owns a house, the dynamics can change. You might not be prepared for the additional expenses, or the idea of renting might not appeal to you.

For others, the decision to continue living together might be for the children. Maintaining a semblance of normalcy and ensuring that the kids have access to both parents daily can be a significant consideration. A shared residence also minimizes the disruptions in the children’s routine, schooling, and social life.

Navigating Shared Spaces and Boundaries

separated but living together in shared spaces

Living together post-separation presents an interesting juxtaposition: you’re no longer together romantically, but you still share a common space. Respecting boundaries becomes paramount in such situations.

Physical Boundaries:

A clear demarcation of personal spaces is essential. Whether it’s separate bedrooms or designated areas in shared spaces like the living room, every individual needs their personal nook.

This not only gives the much-needed privacy but also provides a sanctuary during emotionally turbulent times.

Social Interactions:

The daily routines that you once shared might need a relook. Simple activities like dining might need redefining. Will you continue to share meals?

Or would you prefer cooking and eating separately? Similarly, how will you entertain guests? Setting these boundaries early on can stave off potential conflicts.

Shared Responsibilities:

From bills to house chores, clarity is needed on shared responsibilities. A rota system might work for some, while others might prefer assigning specific tasks. The key is to ensure fairness and transparency.

Emotional Challenges and Coping Mechanisms

While the physical challenges of living under one roof can be addressed with boundaries, emotional challenges can be trickier.

Dealing with Residual Feelings:

Seeing an ex-partner daily can reopen old wounds or even reignite old flames. It’s essential to recognize and address these feelings. Remember, you separated for a reason.

Therapy and Counseling:

Many individuals benefit from therapy during such transitions. Professional counselors can provide coping strategies and offer a neutral perspective. Group therapy or support groups can also provide solace as sharing experiences with those in similar situations can be therapeutic.

Avoiding Complications:

As tempting as it might be, avoid falling back into old patterns, especially if they were detrimental. This includes rekindling a romantic relationship without addressing the root causes of the separation.

separated but living together emotional challenges

The Social Aspect: Dealing with Outside Perceptions

Society often views situations through its prism of understanding, and living together post-separation might raise eyebrows.

Being Transparent: While you don’t owe anyone an explanation, being transparent with close friends and family can prevent misunderstandings.

Dealing with Criticism: Not everyone will understand your choice, and that’s okay. Remember to prioritize your peace and well-being over societal expectations. Equip yourself with coping mechanisms, whether it’s meditation, journaling, or simply disconnecting from naysayers.

Moving Forward: What Comes Next?

The future holds myriad possibilities, but it’s crucial to address them head-on.

New Cohabitations:

Moving in with a new partner is a significant step, especially after a separation. It’s essential to understand the dynamics, especially when moving into a home owned by the partner. Open communication about expectations, responsibilities, and future plans can pave the way for a smooth transition.

Continued Shared Living:

For some, continuing the shared living arrangement works best, especially when children are involved. However, it’s essential to re-evaluate the situation periodically.

In Conclusion

Living together post-separation is a journey filled with challenges and learning opportunities. With understanding, patience, and open communication, it can serve as a unique yet fulfilling chapter in one’s life.

Want more insights on joint homeownership? Don’t miss our detailed article on buying a home as a couple for all the dos and don’ts.

Should you find any discrepancies or feel there’s crucial information missing, please do not hesitate to inform us. We value accuracy and are always open to constructive feedback.

FAQs on Living Together Post-Separation

Can you be separated and live in the same house in Australia?

Yes, you can be separated and live in the same house in Australia. There is no legal requirement to move out of the family home when you separate. However, it is important to discuss with your partner how you will manage living together, especially if you have children.

Can you be separated but still live together?

Yes, you can be separated but still live together. This is sometimes referred to as “trial separation” or “living apart together”. It can be a good way to test the waters of separation before making a final decision about divorce.

However, it is important to be clear with your partner about your expectations and to make sure that you are both on the same page.

Can you be separated and live at the same address?

Yes, you can be separated and live at the same address. This is sometimes necessary if you have children or if you cannot afford to move out. However, it is important to have separate bedrooms and to avoid spending too much time together.

What are the rules for separation in Australia?

There are no legal rules for separation in Australia. The only requirement is that you and your partner must be living apart and have no intention of resuming the relationship. However, there are some practical things that you need to do when you separate, such as:

  • Tell your family, friends, and employer about your separation.
  • Make arrangements for your finances, including your housing, bills, and debt.
  • Make arrangements for your children, if you have any.
  • See a lawyer to discuss your legal rights and obligations.

Do I have to support my wife during separation Australia?

Yes, you may have to support your wife during separation in Australia. This is because the law requires you to provide financial support for your spouse and children, even if you are no longer living together.

The amount of support you will have to pay will depend on your income and assets, as well as the needs of your spouse and children.

Soho takes the hassle out of finding your next home. Whether renting, buying or investing, set up your match profile and we'll send you live property matches as they come on the market. Download the Soho app and never miss an agent's message, inspection or new listing. Agents list for free.
Share this article
Want the latest real estate news in your inbox?

Set up your match profile for updates on the best property tips and tools


Soho logo

Our AI match engine will match you with over 150,000+ properties and you can swipe away or shortlist easily. Making your home buying journey faster and easier 

Soho logo
Our AI match engine will match you with over 150,000+ properties and you can swipe away or shortlist easily. Making your home buying journey faster and easier.