Scottish Divorce Law: Here are the rules you must follow when you want to separate from your partner

The rules around divorce are changing in England and Wales to make it easier for people to split, but what is the situation in Scotland?

The law around divorce in Scotland is different to that in England (Photo: Shutterstock)

What are the current rules?

In Scotland you do not need to have been married for at least a year before being able to file for divorce, which is the case in England and Wales.

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However, potential divorcees must show that their marriage has irretrievably broken down.

In Scots law, there are three ways of doing this. You can prove this has happened by showing your partner has committed adultery, or if their behaviour is unreasonable, or through a no-fault divorce.

What is a no-fault divorce?

A no-fault divorce is when a couple separate without having to prove adultery or unreasonable behaviour.

In Scotland, providing the other person consents, this can take place after a year of living separately, or after two years apart without the need of the other person’s consent.

This is different from England and Wales, where the rule is two years with consent and five years without.

This is the main reason for proposed changes to the English system, after a high profile case where a 66 year old woman, Tini Owens, was refused a divorce after failing to adequately show that her husband had behaved unreasonably.

What do lawyers say?

Amanda Masson, partner and family law expert at Harper Macleod, called on Scottish lawmakers to follow the move by the government to change the law in England.

Masson said, “Scotland’s system is broadly similar but we are still in the position where if somebody wants to divorce without the consent of their spouse, they would need to show an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage.

“We do still have this fairly draconian idea that it must have been somebody’s fault.”