Has the phrase “living together in the same household” caused you confusion when applying for your decree nisi?
For many people two years separation with consent is the reason they will cite on their divorce petition for the breakdown in the marriage.
There is a lot of confusion in the public domain about what constitutes separation or living together in the same household.
Separation is basically what some people might call not living together “as a couple” and in divorce proceedings this has come to be more specifically referred to as not living together in the same household. You can still live under one roof – particularly if your home is for sale or you haven’t yet agreed what to do with it. But if you do live under one roof during any period you are claiming you were separated, you will need to explain your living arrangements briefly when you come to apply for your decree nisi.
This is what the question looks like. You will find it on the D80 (d) statement in support of application for decree nisi.
Since the date that you separated, have you ever lived with the Respondent in the same household?
What does this mean? What in practice will you have to give more detail on? And how do you actually write it down?
Well not having a sexual relationship may be one indicator that you are no longer a couple, but if you still pool your resources to pay bills and for food or cook for each other you may still be living together in the same household.
No two situations are exactly the same. But as a general rule, if two people are sharing a property with a shared bathroom, kitchen etc the question they need to ask themselves is, are we living like lodgers or tenants in a shared house or is our relationship still more personal than that?
Tenants can still share bills and occasionally even eat together. For practical reasons they may also tell each other what time to expect them home so that security locks can be put on etc. So it can be very difficult to distinguish between a couple living together in the same household and two people just sharing accommodation.
First of all it is essential in my view to make clear that there is no longer a sexual relationship between you.
Beyond that you should also clarify that you have separate arrangements for paying bills and other domestic matters. In other words you are not taking responsibility for each other in the way couples may do or behaving in a way which may indicate that you are a couple. It should be clear that you don’t have a “common life, together”.
Remember that it is often going to be the case that there is only one gas/electricity bill etc. So you need to specify that you make separate arrangements for paying it even if that simply means one of you handing the other some money.
There is case law on this but it is old and in my view outdated, with a preoccupation with who does the cooking and domestic tasks. The world has moved on from the most recent reported case in 1972. People live under one roof in ever more diverse situations. Women don’t always cook for their husbands. We now have same sex marriage and civil partnerships. In many of these (and also in many opposite sex relationships) there are no children and the division of responsibility for household chores or pooling of financial resources, or lack of, is often impossible to compare with the situations seen in the reported case law on this subject. The case law no longer helps in my opinion.
You will know if you are a couple or not, if you are living together in the same household or not.
Separating is not drifting apart. It is not the same as being a dysfunctional couple, a couple who don’t love each other any more. It is more permanent and final. The relationship is over and you are simply under one roof whilst you sort out your finances or sell your home. You will have discussed it. You will have reached agreement (of sorts) on your living arrangements during this time and it will usually be considered to be a temporary arrangement.
If you need help putting this in writing please book an appointment for a telephone consultation or email me for further details of how I can help. There is a fee for checking or preparing a divorce petition for you.
Whilst you are here please do take a look at the information on financial agreements on divorce, separation and dissolution of civil partnership.