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How can I get divorced in Scotland and how long will it take?

How can I get divorced in Scotland and how long will it take?

You can get divorced in Scotland if your marriage has broken down irretrievably and that can be for one of four reasons:-

  • Your husband or wife has committed adultery
  • Your spouse’s behaviour towards you has been unreasonable
  • You have been separated for more than one year and your spouse consents to divorce
  • You have been separated for more than two years (no consent from your spouse is required)


If your husband or wife has committed adultery you can raise a divorce action immediately. However, if you proceed on this basis the divorce writ will have to:

- name the person with whom your spouse formed a relationship

- be served on that person as well as on your spouse

Unreasonable Behaviour

This also allows you to raise a divorce action immediately.  “Unreasonable behaviour” has a broad definition – it is conduct that you should not reasonably have to put up with. It might not be enough if your husband constantly leaves the toilet set up, or does not help with housework, or if your wife is always out shopping or socialising with her friends, but it does cover abuse, aggression, intimidation and general conduct signifying lack of respect.  If a divorce proceeds on this basis a statement from a third party, such as a friend or relative, to corroborate the allegations being made, will be required.  

 Who prepares the paperwork?

  • In cases of adultery and unreasonable behaviour a solicitor is responsible for preparing a writ.

  • In cases of separation for more than one or two years, if there are children under 16 and/or outstanding financial issues a solicitor will prepare a writ.

Simplified Divorce Procedure

If there are no children under 16 and no financial issues, the simplified divorce procedure is available.   In such cases the divorce application is made on a pre-printed form and sent to Court with the Marriage Certificate.   In cases of separation for more than one year with consent the form is signed by the consenting spouse before being sent to Court.   In cases where separation has been for more than 2 years, the form is completed by the applicant spouse and does not need to be signed by the other party, but will be intimated to the non-applicant spouse by the Court.

How long does it take?
This is difficult to predict if there are financial matters or issues involving children.  If only a divorce is sought, with no other orders, the case should be concluded in about eight weeks.

If you would like further advice, specific to your circumstances, please do not hesitate to contact our family law team (which includes accreditated specialists in family law and child law). 

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Written by : Lynne Collingham