The Hamburg midfielder got into a heated row with his wife on New Year’s Eve and is believed to have struck her in front of shocked guests at a private party.
Van der Vaart told German newspaper, Bild: ‘It was very foolish of me. I’m an idiot. I’m very sorry. It should never have happened.’
Sylvie told the newspaper that she forgave him, but the couple later announced they had separated.
She said: ‘I ??have forgiven him already …’
The split comes just a week after the pair spent Christmas together with their son Damian and posted a picture of themselves on Twitter in front of a Christmas tree.