No. 9 – Divorce Procedure In Scotland
There are actually two divorce procedures in Scotland: the simplified (“do-it-yourself”) procedure and the ordinary procedure. The spouse who applies for the divorce is called the ‘pursuer’ and the other the ‘defender.’
Simplified / DIY Procedure
The DIY procedure is available only if:
the divorce is uncontested – if a party objects to the procedure at any stage, it will stop;
either (1) the marriage broke down
irretrievably because the parties lived apart for at least one year
and both consent to the divorce, or the parties lived apart for at least two
years and one spouse does not consent to the
divorce, or (2) one spouse has been issued with an interim gender recognition
there are no children under 16 – this includes adopted
children and children accepted into the family;
there are no disputes over property or money;
neither party suffers from a mental disorder affecting their ability to manage their own affairs;
there are no other court proceedings; and
there is no religious impediment to the remarriage of either
partner – this may apply if a party is Jewish and seeks a religious
bill of divorce (known as a ‘get’).
Ordinary Divorce Procedure
Where a DIY divorce is unavailable, a pursuer must use the ordinary
The ordinary divorce procedure begins with the solicitor for the pursuer
drafting a summons (in the Court of Session) or an initial
writ (in the sheriff court).
The divorce application is sent to the court and a copy is
served on the defender. Where adultery is a ground for divorce, a copy is also
sent to the third person involved if he or she is named in the application.
If the defender agrees about the grounds for the divorce and what to
do about any children, money and property the divorce can go to court as an
undefended case. In this event, neither partner usually has to go to
court. The sheriff will examine the case and the divorce will then be granted
unless the court requires further information.
If the defender does not agree about the grounds for the divorce, or issues
about the children, money or property the divorce application will go to court
as a defended case. Defended cases can be long and expensive, but
it may be possible to settle disputes using mediation or the collaborative family law process.
** Additional Information & Advice **
You can obtain further information about divorce in Scotland on
Depending on your circumstances, however, you may want to speak with a solicitor who specialises in family law. You can be matched with a family law solicitor in your area for free via
solicitor matching services, which can also help you to understand the best
course of action and whether you are ready to hire a solicitor.
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