One can ask for personal separation only on the grounds that the relationship has irretrievably broken down.
There may be instances where the courts would need to determine who of the parties was responsible for the breakdown of the marriage or the civil union. This is because the court may need to decide on family matters such as should be accorded custody of the minors, who should enjoy the use of the matrimonial home and the quantum of maintenance payable.
Albeit that there is no exhaustive list of good reasons for separation, the Civil Code provides that a separation in such case is justified:
- excesses (a form of sexual cruelty)
- grievous injury (whether any of these is committed on the party requesting separation or on his or her children) and
If a party leaves the matrimonial home for any of the above-mentioned reasons such spouse should not be deemed to be abandoning the other party. The party who gives rise to separation may due to any of these grounds forfeit certain rights, as described here.
Parties may also demand separation on the ground that "they cannot reasonably be expected to live together" since the marriage or civil union has irretrievably broken down. However, divorce on the ground that marriage has irretrievably broken down may not be demanded before 4 years from the date of marriage or civil union.