A wife and husband are considered to be separated when they are leading separate lives. There are no formal procedures to show you are separated, no forms to fill in and nobody you have to notify.

It is possible to separate, have one attempt at reconciliation which lasts less than three months, separate again and still apply for divorce if the total period of separation adds up to twelve months.

Regardless of whose name is on the title to the family home, both spouses are entitled to live there. If there is a dispute, you cannot force your spouse to leave without a court order. If the situation is unpleasant you may prefer to leave the home but keep in mind the importance of maintaining a relationship with your children.

The court is reluctant to interrupt the children’s usual living arrangements and if a long time passes without you seeing the children (a couple of weeks could be enough) this may affect any application you later make about who the children should live with or spend time with. If you find yourself in this situation, seek legal advice urgently from Eales & Mackenzie.

Separation Under One Roof

A married couple can be separated while living in the same house, but it must be shown that the marriage relationship has irretrievably broken down. You are not usually considered to have separated if you share the usual activities of marriage such as sleeping together, shopping and eating meals together, entertaining friends, going out together with your children, or sharing bank accounts.

Spouses intending to live separately under one roof should make sure that others know about it from the beginning of the separation, as the court normally requires evidence from a friend or relative that there was a separation. There must also be good reasons why you remained together in the same house, such as caring for children or not having enough money to live in different houses.