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When can I get a divorce in Scotland and how long does it take?

We are often asked - when can I get a divorce in Scotland and how long does it take? You can get divorced in Scotland if your marriage has broken down irretrievably.

What options are open to me?

  1. 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
  2. If the breakdown of the marriage is due to your partner's unreasonable behaviour you can similarly raise the divorce action immediately. 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

What is unreasonable behaviour? It is behaviour that, when viewed objectively you should not have to put up with. (It might not be enough if your husband constantly leaves the toilet seat up or doesn't help with the housework, or if your wife is always out shopping or chatting to her friends, but it does cover abuse, aggression, intimidation and general conduct signifying lack of respect.)

3. Following a period of separation for more than one year, you can seek divorce with your spouse's consent

4. If you have been separated for more than two years, no consent is required

Who prepares the paperwork?

  • In cases 1 and 2 a solicitor is responsible for preparing a writ.
  • In cases 3 and 4 if there are children under 16 and/or outstanding financial issues your solicitor will prepare a writ.
  • If there are no children under 16 and no financial issues, a simplified divorce procedure is available. In such cases the divorce application is made on a pre-printed form and must be seen by both parties.

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

If you'd like further advice specific to your circumstances please do not hesitate to contact us.


Written by : Lynne Collingham