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Grounds for divorce

January is a time often associated with new beginnings, but in the wake of the festive season it is also a time many couples revaluate their lives. In the realm of family law, practitioners often see an upturn in the number of divorces leading to January often being described as ‘divorce month’.

Dondé Thiam, Senior Solicitor in our family law team takes a look at the grounds for divorce in Scotland.

The primary ground for divorce in Scotland is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This breakdown can be established through one of four ways:

  1. One-year separation with consent: If both parties have lived apart for at least one year and both agree to the divorce, it can be granted.
  2. Two Years’ Separation: If the parties have lived apart for a continuous period of two years or more a divorce can be granted regardless of whether both parties agree.
  3. Adultery: If one spouse has committed adultery a divorce can be granted. This ground is not often relied upon as it can be difficult to prove.
  4. Unreasonable Behaviour: If it can be established that one spouse’s behaviour is such that the other cannot reasonably be expected to live with them a divorce can be granted. This can include a wide variety of behaviour, such as physical or emotional abuse or addiction.

A second ground is established if one party has been issued with an interim gender recognition certificate under the Gender Recognition Act 2004.

Before applying for a divorce it is sensible to try and have discussions with your spouse to try to come to an agreement in relation care arrangements for any children of the marriage and an agreement on how finances will be dealt with. The court will not grant a divorce unless arrangements for children and finances have been agreed. If parties cannot agree then orders will need to be made by the court, it is therefore preferable if parties can agree matters directly, by engaging in mediation or through solicitors.

If you are considering a divorce, it is important to seek legal advice early to understand your rights and responsibilities. An early meeting can provide clarity and help you make informed decisions.

If you are going through a separation and want to discuss your options, get in touch with a member of our family team today.