Can I be separated but still live with my ex?

Can I be separated but still live with my ex? Separating from your partner while still living in the same house (known as separation under the one roof) is common and has become increasingly so due to COVID-19 lockdowns.

Some reasons for this situation occurring include:

  1. Finances;
  2. Convenience;
  3. Staying together for the children; and
  4. One or both parties being unwilling to leave.

This article provides guidance around managing through a separation under the one roof.

Safety first

The most important thing to remember is that you should not live in a home with your ex-partner if it is unsafe to do so. Seek safety if you are being subjected to family violence,  and if you are in immediate danger, call 000.

Before you separate

Before you decide to separate from your partner, you should consider the following:

  1. Do it safely. If your safety is an issue, get as much advice and support as you can before you separate. Our family lawyers can give you advice and provide the appropriate referrals if required.
  2. If you can, make sure you have adequate support around you from friends and family.
  3. If privacy is an issue, change passwords for personal accounts such as your email, online banking and social media.
  4. Gather all of your personal paperwork and valuables and keep them safe. These include things like your birth certificate and your passport.
  5. Get family law advice to know where you stand. The advice may influence your decision about timing and you may avoid doing things that could unnecessarily inflame the situation.
  6. Record the date you separated from your spouse/partner – even if you know you will still be living in the same house.

Why you should record when you separated

If you were married, the period you have been separated is used to determine when you can get a divorce. If you were in a de facto relationship, the period you have been separated is used to determine the date by which you must apply for property settlement.

The separation date may also be relevant for things such as an application to Centrelink for the payment of benefits.

How to determine the date of separation

Sometimes there will be a disagreement about the actual date of separation, especially where the parties are still living together. A few days or maybe even months might not make too much of a difference to the legal outcomes.

However, if it’s necessary to determine the date of separation, some of the relevant considerations may be:

  1. When did the parties stop sleeping in the same room?
  2. Is there an ongoing sexual relationship?
  3. Do the parties continue to socialise together outside of the house?
  4. Are finances still intermingled?
  5. Are the parties still caring for one another – cooking, cleaning, laundry?
  6. Do the parties present to others as still being in a relationship?

Get help

We can help you find out where you stand and ensure you’re fully informed about your rights and entitlements after separation.

Our team can help you with:

  • arrangements for the future the care of any children;
  • negotiating a property settlement when the time comes;
  • negotiating any entitlement to spousal maintenance;
  • assistance with your application for divorce; and
  • working with you to review and update your Will or any other estate planning documents.

Call us on 9793 7888 or send us an email at to get in contact with one of our family lawyers today.