In today’s news there is a report of a New York Judge who has ordered that a wall be built inside a couple’s house, subdividing it into separate living areas to keep them apart. It is an interim step to avoid feuding while they await their final hearing. This is a unique situation that I have not heard of before in family law. Admittedly, it happened in New York, however, there is no reason why a judge would not be able to make an identical order under Australian family law.
Applications for exclusive occupation of a matrimonial home are relatively common in Australia. The Court must first determine whether or not it is ‘reasonable and practical’ for the parties to remain under one roof
If the Court finds it not reasonable or practical that the parties should remain under one roof, it then examines the options of both parties to leave the home, not just the options of the party being requested to leave. These applications can be a two-edged sword and should be considered carefully.
The Court is also required to consider the effect on any children, the accommodation alternatives and financial consequences of each of the parties and, in the longer term, who is likely to remain living in the home. In the case referred to in New York, the couple had five children living with them.