“Living apart” does not merely mean physical separation, but also an intention to terminate the marital consortium or relationship.
Date of Decision: 21 February 1990
21 February 1990
Outcome: Divorce petition on the fact of four years’ separation dismissed with costs
1 The Husband sought a divorce on the fact that parties had lived apart for a prior continuous period of four years. The Husband had moved out of the matrimonial home to stay with his parents when things came to a head. In the following period, especially the first year, the Husband carried on a normal domestic life in the matrimonial home, except that he did not sleep in the flat.
2 “Separation” means more than physical separation – it involves the breakdown of the marital relationship. Separation can occur where one or both spouses form the intention to terminate the marital relationship, and act on that intention or act as if the marital relationship has been severed: at  and .
3 The evidence showed that for the period after the Husband left the matrimonial home, parties carried on a normal marital relationship and normal family life. Although the Husband expressly told the Wife that he could not live with her and refused to sleep at home by choice, he continued to recognise the marriage by spending his free waking hours with the Wife and/or children. The marital relationship was not destroyed during this period, and Husband did not do anything to suggest that he truly and sincerely intended to end the marriage as he continued to enjoy all the advantages and burdens of his married state: at  and .
4 Accordingly, parties continued to live in the same household in the first year of his leaving the matrimonial home even though the Husband refused to sleep at home: at .
This summary is provided to assist the public to have a better understanding of the Court’s judgment. It is not intended to be a substitute for the reasons of the Court. All numbers in bold font and square brackets refer to the corresponding paragraph numbers in the Court’s judgment.