A common question for family lawyers is when does the 12 month separation period start? This is even more relevant during the COVID pandemic because many people, without work or on tight budgets, have been forced to stay in the same household as their separated partner.
Legally, that is not the issue it might seem. Living under the one roof does not mean that you are not separated. The Court, in determining if the parties have been separated for a period of 12 months, looks at the individual circumstances of the separation.
To prove you have been separated would usually require the circumstances of your separation to be set out in an affidavit and (often) supported by an affidavit from an independent witness, such as a friend or a family member. The test is whether the consortium vitae (a fancy Latin way of describing the life or essence of the married relationship) ended and when.
Parties may continue providing domestic assistance to each other, such as cooking meals or doing washing, and there are even some cases where parties have been found to have separated even though they maintained a sexual relationship.
As a general rule, if you have separated your banking, moved into separate rooms and told people that your relationship is over, you are getting to the position you need to be in to convince a Court that you have been separated.
It’s a tricky one. Contact one of our specialist family lawyers for advice on your specific situation.
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