The 2006 movie the Break-up starring Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn was a box office success though it was ‘lacking in laughs’ as one critic put it.

Part of the reason for its success seems to be the subject matter which touched a sore spot for a lot of people considering divorce.

For many people, moving out of the house following the end of their divorce is not a financial possibility. Many people stay in relationships for a long time because of what they see as the financial security blanket until a more concrete financial decision is reached.

The Family Law Act and legal system in Australia recognises that this is a reality for many people. So when taking into account the divorce period, the separation under the one roof is considered a separation.

However, the court will require proof that the separation did occur. For two people to be separated under the one roof means they are flatmates, not a couple. So it is important to show at a minimum

  • that both had separate bank accounts,
  • attended family and social events separately,
  • told each other and close friends that they were separated, etc

Once you can prove the above, the court is likely to consider that separation did occur and take the period spent under the one roof as part of the 12 months separation period required for divorce.

By Nadia Messiha

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