How do you live together when separated?

It is not always possible when divorcing to maintain two separate households because of financial constraints. Another common reason for living separately together is a desire to retain a stable family environment for the children.

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The introduction of the no-fault divorce has simplified the process and you no longer have to prove to the court that you are living separate lives in order to get a divorce. Of course, life is never that simple, and if you are in receipt of welfare benefits, you must still prove to the Department for Work and Pensions that you are maintaining separate lives under the same roof. But how do you do this? This article looks at the options and the evidence needed to show authorities.

Who do I need to tell when I separate from my spouse?

If you and your spouse are separating, even if you are living under the same roof, it may be sensible to inform the following:

  • Landlord/housing association office
  • Housing benefit office
  • Council tax office (if you pay this, you will be unable to get the single person allowance if you are living together even if you are separated)
  • Mortgage provider
  • Utility companies
  • Benefits office
  • Tax office, particularly if you are getting tax credits
  • Children’s schools
  • Bank or other financial organisation if you have a joint bank account
  • Hire purchase or credit companies
  • Insurance companies, especially if you have joint policies

How can I prove to the DWP/HMRC I am living separately from my spouse under the same roof?

If you have recently separated, you may be entitled to receive certain benefits or higher levels of benefits you are already receiving. Firstly, you will need to inform the relevant authority that you have separated/changed your circumstances and secondly, you will need to demonstrate that your separation is permanent. Evidence includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Letter on headed paper from a professional, such as your solicitor, GP, or employer
  • Final divorce order or decree absolute
  • Separation agreement
  • Confirmation you sleep in separate bedrooms
  • You don’t cook or clean for each other
  • You don’t attend social functions together
  • You don’t provide financial support to each other (other than that allowed under child support or spousal maintenance)
  • You do not have a sexual relationship

How do you divide a house so you can live separately during divorce?

If you live in a large property, then this issue is unlikely to arise. However, most of us live in modest homes where it is simply not possible to avoid someone all the time. Some couples decide to use their home on a type of timeshare basis. For example, one of  them uses the communal areas such as the dining room, lounge, kitchen, and bathroom during their allocated time. This enables you to stay out of each other’s way as much as possible. It can also help to devise a list of ‘house rules’, such as no overnight guests.


How do we pay bills separately?

It is really down to what works best for your family, and is likely to depend on current arrangements, trust issues, and how long you intend to live together. If utility bills are in one person’s name and the other party fails to make a contribution, this could affect credit ratings if not paid, so any arrangements you make should take this into account. Examples of ways to pay household expenses include:

  • If separation is amicable and you trust the other on financial matters, then you could continue to operate a joint bank account and use it solely for property outgoings, such as bills, mortgage/rent, insurance, etc.
  • You could each open up a sole bank account and transfer direct debits, payments, and salaries to your own accounts. Of course, this option relies on one party being able to recoup monies for outgoings from the other, and if the separation is acrimonious, this could be risky and lead to arguments and bad credit ratings.
  • One party could take over responsibility for the bills, but this could be in consideration for receiving spousal maintenance and child support to enable you to do this.

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