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The end of a marriage can be a difficult time for all involved, especially when there are so many things to sort out with your partner. This is why it's important that you research everything you need to know about divorcing in Scotland, so the divorce can go through as smoothly as possible.

There are many things which will need to be discussed after the breakdown of a marriage such as childcare, money, housing, and other property and possessions.

Here is everything you need to know if you are divorcing in Scotland:

Reasons for divorce

Unlike a lot of other countries, in Scotland there are only two legal grounds for divorce - irretrievable breakdown of marriage is the most common. You are also eligible if you or your partner have an interim gender recognition certificate.

If you wish to get a divorce because your marriage has broken down, you have be able to show the court that your partner has committed adultery, behaved unreasonably such as committing physical or mental cruelty, or that you've lived apart for at least a year.

In Scotland there is no minimum length of time that you have to be married before divorce proceedings can begin.

Who you need to inform

There are a number of people you may need to inform if you are divorcing from your partner.

If you have a joint account, it is advised that you contact the bank. An adviser may suggest freezing the account. This will prevent your partner from withdrawing money that is in the account.

You may also need to get in touch with your landlord, insurance companies, tax office, mortgage lender and gas, electricity and telephone companies to inform them of your change in circumstances.

If are divorcing in Scotland with children under 16, and you're moving house, you will also need to contact their current school, doctor and dentist to inform them that you are moving address.

Divorcing in Scotland with Children

One of the most important things to sort out once your marriage has broken down is the question of who will look after your children. In a lot of cases, parents make arrangements for the child to spend an equal amount of time with each parent. However, this isn't always the best option for all involved, so in some cases it is agreed that the child lives with one parent regularly and stays over with the other parent one or two nights a week, or at weekends.

If you and your partner cannot come to an amicable agreement on where your children will live, you can ask the court to decide. The courts will generally view that children should maintain contact with both parents, unless there is proof or strong reason to suggest that it is not best for the child.


As soon as you are married, you and your spouse are legally obliged to provide financial support for each other. It's because of this that you may be entitled to money called aliment from your partner while you are separated and the divorce proceedings are ongoing.

The court could offer you a 'clean break' from each other, which would result in you or your partner making a one-off lump sum payment to the other, rather than regular payments.

The family home

Even after a separation you are legally allowed to stay in your family home, unless a court orders that you have to leave. If you are unable to come to an agreement on what to do with the family home, the court will make orders about the home.

If you live in a rented home and have a joint tenancy, you can decide between you which one of you should remain as a tenant in the accommodation and who should look for a new home. If this can't be agreed, the decision can be made by the court, who can transfer a tenancy agreement to your name, as well as sorting out any rent arrears.

If the tenancy is solely in your name, you could be entitled to Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction to help with housing costs when your partner moves out.

If you've decided to leave the family home, you could be able to apply for long-term accommodation as a homeless person.

Applying for divorce in Scotland

There are two ways of applying for divorce in Scotland. The ordinary method, which means you need to contact a solicitor, or the do-it-yourself divorce, which is a less expensive, simplified procedure. However, you cannot use the DIY divorce if you have children under 16 or current financial issues.

Divorce Costs in Scotland 

Both divorce methods will require you to pay court fees when you lodge the application. You could be entitled to get legal aid to cover the cost of a solicitor, but you may still have to pay a contribution towards the costs.

Fiona Rasmusen
Partner, Head of Family Law
Do you need help? I specialise in family law, divorce, separation, child contact and residence, prenuptial agreements and separation agreements.
Edinburgh: 0131 208 2260
Glasgow: 0141 628 0656
or Request a callback