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Legal separation in Scotland: 5 things you need to know

Legal separation in Scotland: 5 things you need to know

Legal separation in Scotland can be a difficult step to take but it is important to prepare yourself for what happens next. Here are 5 things you need to know.

1. How do we separate?

Couples usually separate when someone moves out of the matrimonial home. A solicitor can provide clarity on this by producing a separation agreement for spouses, civil partners or couples who have been cohabiting.

2. Who needs to know we have separated?

After separating you may have a responsibility to inform organisations such as your:

  • council tax office
  • mortgage lender
  • benefits office
  • bank and credit companies
  • insurance companies

A solicitor will be able to tell you whom you need to contact and what you need to tell them.

3. What about our children and home?

It is important to recognise the limitations of a separation agreement in Scotland where children are involved. Contact and residence (child custody) agreed in separation agreements are not legally binding so specific guidance should be sought.

4. Is there a way we can resolve our separation amicably?

The breakdown of your relationship will be an emotional and anxious period. However, different options are available to try to resolve matters.

  • Mediation: an independent mediator can help couples in disagreement to communicate effectively. Learn more about mediation in Scotland at
  • Collaborative family law allows parties to meet each other to discuss problems alongside their solicitors. This can avoid a lengthy court process but does not rule out court litigation at a later stage.
  • Arbitration through the Family Law Arbitration Group Scotland (FLAGS) can allow a more flexible and focused approach. Visit for more information.

5. When can I get a divorce?

Once you have been separated for at least one year you may be able to use your period of separation as grounds for a divorce.

  • After being separated for one year you may divorce your spouse as long as they consent to proceedings.
  • After being separated for two years you do not require consent to begin divorce proceedings.

If you need any advice about legal separation in Scotland or divorce get in touch with our experienced family law team.

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Written by : Lynne Collingham

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