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We often get asked if you can file for divorce if you still live together, to which the answer is yes you can, but…

Living in the same house during separation or divorce is not the easiest thing to do.

It’s often emotionally draining and it’s also legally not a simple process, which can cost you thousands if you don’t get the right advice.

We want to help explain that it is actually quite hard to get a divorce when you are cohabiting, but still living together after you have separated.

What to do if you live together and separate when unmarried?

If you have separated from your partner and you want a formal agreement in writing then it’s recommended that you obtain a separation agreement.

This agreement is created by both parties and sets out how things are to be divided upon separation, e.g. how bills will be paid, the payment of any on-going maintenance for a spouse or children or how money from the sale of the home will be divided.

This agreement can then be used in the event of any legal separation if you were to get married in the future or if either party doesn’t follow through with their responsibilities as set out in your agreement.

What the law says about living in the same house during a divorce

You can get a divorce if you are cohabiting in the same house, but you’ll need to show the court that you have maintained separate lives during that period.

You cannot divorce upon the grounds of adultery if you have continued living in the same household for 6 months or more after the date the adultery was admitted to you.

Similarly, you cannot bring a divorce based on unreasonable behaviour if the last incident was more than 6 months old and you have continued living together.

If you are considering getting a divorce based on 2 years separation, it is advised that the separation date starts on the date one party moves out.

It is very difficult to process a divorce through court on the above ground if both parties continue to live together when they’ve separated.

However, we have helped thousands of couples in this exact situation obtain a divorce without needing to spend thousands on hiring a solicitor.

Confused about Divorce?

Getting divorced when you live together is difficult at the best of times, both emotionally and legally. We can provide you with initial advice on your options and the best way for you to proceed for free.

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    What maintaining separate households during separation means

    The court will expect you to say that you literally do not share anything.

    Judges apply these rules very strictly in accordance with a precedent set in the case known as Mouncer v Mouncer [1972] 1 All ER 289.

    In Mouncer, the husband and wife were on very bad terms and slept in separate bedrooms.

    They continued to take their meals together, albeit that they were cooked by the wife often in the company of one or both of their children.

    They shared the cleaning of the house and made no distinction between one part of the house and the other although the wife no longer did any washing for the husband.

    The only reason for the husband continuing to live in the house was his wish to live with and help look after the children.

    The court held that “a rejection of a normal physical relationship coupled with an absence of normal affection” was not sufficient to constitute “living apart”

    Here is a list of things that you cannot do if you want to maintain that you have been living separately in your divorce and you will need to go into some detail how this works if the judge queries your arrangements, which are initially set out in the divorce petition;

    • Sharing meals
    • Sharing a bedroom
    • Socialising together
    • Sharing a bank account
    • Sharing children activities
    • Sharing the shopping
    • Eating meals together

    Claiming benefits when separated but living together

    In some cases, if you have recently divorced, you may be entitled to claim new benefits or receive higher amounts of the benefits you already receive.

    In relation to tax and benefits, you are seen to be separated when you and your ex-partner no longer live together.

    The separation needs to be permanent in order for you to claim the relevant benefits, therefore if you’re trailing separation you may not be entitled to make a claim for new or increased benefits.

    For more detailed information on tax and benefits, you should visit HMRC website and report any changes to your circumstances.

    So, what exactly are my options?

    If you have decided that divorce is your only option and you want to end the marriage, then you will need to prove to the court that you are leading completely separated lives based on 2 years separation.

    If you can wait until you’ve been separated for a period of 5 years, by which time you would both be living separately, you can file for divorce using this ground, which doesn’t require the consent of your ex-partner.

    Because of the nature of this situation, getting a divorce is slightly more time-consuming and therefore using a high-street solicitor can put the costs of divorce into the thousands.

    Luckily, Divorce-Online the leading provider of online fixed fee divorce services can help you from just £199 including VAT.

    If you’re ready to get started with your divorce view our divorce services.

    Find out how we can help you

    If you want advice or further information on how we can help you get a  divorce when you are still living together call us on 01793 384 029.

    Email us your questions


    This post was written by Mark Keenan. Editor of the Divorce Online Blog and Managing Director of Online Legal Service Ltd. Mark has been writing about divorce and related subjects for over 20+ years and is an expert in legal marketing.

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