Simplified Divorce

Nowadays the tabloids are full of news that yet another celebrity couple have been granted a ‘quickie divorce’. We are often contacted by clients who want to know if such a thing is available to them and if so, how they can apply. 

In Scotland, there is a process known as the simplified divorce procedure (also applicable to civil partnership dissolutions), which is often referred to as the ‘DIY Divorce’. This procedure is available if you meet certain criteria and is probably the closest thing we have to a ‘quickie divorce’ in Scotland – although in some cases, an ordinary divorce or civil partnership dissolution can also be granted within six to eight weeks of splitting up, if it is not contested. 

As long as you meet certain criteria, you can apply for a divorce or dissolution under the simplified/DIY divorce procedure if there are no outstanding financial matters to resolve between you (or if you have already entered into a Separation Agreement covering these) and there are no children of the marriage or partnership under the age of 16. You may also be able to apply without using a Solicitor.

The procedure is almost identical for those in same sex marriages and civil partnerships.

Frequently asked questions.

The following are some of our most frequently asked questions when it comes to simplified divorce or dissolution.

Am I eligible for a simplified divorce or dissolution?

You will only be eligible if there are no outstanding financial matters to resolve between you and your spouse/civil partner (or if you have already entered into a Separation Agreement covering these) and there are no children of the marriage or civil partnership under the age of 16.

You need to have been separated for at least one full year, in which case your spouse/civil partner will have to sign the form to provide their consent.  Or, you can wait until you have been separated for at least two full years, at which point their consent will not be needed.

You will also need to establish jurisdiction to apply for a divorce or dissolution under Scots Law (see ‘How do I establish jurisdiction?’ below) before you can use this procedure and, importantly, this procedure cannot be used if your spouse/civil partner suffers from a mental disorder, personality disorder or learning difficulties. In such a case you would need to use the ordinary divorce procedure.

How do I establish jurisdiction?

There are additional requirements relating to residence (known as establishing jurisdiction) which you will need to meet to apply for a divorce or dissolution using the simplified procedure. These are different depending on whether you are raising the application in the Sheriff Court or Court of Session.  In both cases, you need to be able to say that:

  • You and your spouse/civil partner are habitually resident in Scotland, and/or
  • You and your spouse/civil partner were both last habitually resident together in Scotland and one of you still resides there, and/or
  • Your spouse/civil partner is habitually resident in Scotland, and/or
  • You are habitually resident in Scotland having resided there for at least one year immediately before this application is made, and/or
  • You are habitually resident in Scotland and have resided there for at least six months immediately before this application is made and you are domiciled in Scotland, and/or
  • You and your spouse/civil partner are domiciled in Scotland

If none of the above apply to you then you can still apply for simplified divorce or dissolution if:

  • Either you or your spouse/civil partner are domiciled in Scotland, and
  • Additional provisions apply which enable nationals of other member states of the European Union to qualify – you should take legal advice from a Family Law Solicitor on this

If you are applying for simplified divorce or dissolution in the Sheriff Court, one of the following must also apply to you:

  • You have lived at your current address for at least 40 days before the date of signing the application, or
  • Your spouse/civil partner has lived at their current address for at least 40 days before the date of you signing the application, or
  • Either you or your spouse/civil partner have no known residence in Scotland, but did live at the address shown for at least 40 days, ending not more than 40 days before the date of you signing the application

What do I have to do?

If you meet the criteria to apply for a divorce or dissolution using the simplified procedure, you then need to decide if you would prefer to instruct a Solicitor or whether you will make the application yourself.  If you intend to do it yourself then:

  • Download the correct simplified procedure form from the Scottish Courts’ website or get a hard copy of the form from your local Sheriff Court
  • Complete the form, following the guidance notes carefully
  • Arrange to have the form notarised by a Notary Public (many solicitors are also Notaries Public), Commissioner for Oaths or Justice of the Peace, who may charge a small fee for doing so.
  • Take the form, your original marriage or civil partnership certificate and the court fee to your local Sheriff Court for them to process it

Where can I go for advice?

If you need advice on divorce or dissolution, then you should contact a Solicitor who specialises in Family Law.  If you need guidance on completing the simplified procedure form, then your local Sheriff Clerk’s office (located within the Sheriff Court) should be able to help you.

How can Thorntons help?

It is best to obtain legal advice before applying for a divorce or partnership dissolution, especially if there are financial matters to be resolved, as once the divorce or dissolution is granted it is virtually impossible to seek any financial provision at a later date under Scots Law. Our Family Law team can help you decide what the best route is for you, and take you through the whole process. However, if you are eligible, you may be able to apply for a divorce or dissolution without the need for a Solicitor.

We offer an initial free no-obligation chat over the phone to outline your options and the possible costs. Call us on 03330 430 150 or contact us to book an appointment.

How much will it cost?

Our fee for completing the paperwork on your behalf for a simplified divorce or dissolution procedure (including the fee for notarising the document) is £300 inclusive of VAT and excluding outlays.  The outlays include the court fee and the fee for effecting service of the papers on your spouse/ civil partner by the Sheriff Officers, which is only used where Recorded Delivery has failed.

The fee charged by the court for processing the paperwork normally increases slightly each April.  The current fee charged is £111 (correct at September 2015).  You can find the fees on the Sheriff Court website.

Please note we do not offer Legal Aid for this service.

Frequently asked questions

We receive many questions about the divorce procedure and how if someone qualifies for a simplified divorce. We have answered some commonly asked questions below

Read frequently asked questions

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Key Contacts

Stephen

Stephen Brand
Partner

+44 1382 346204
sbrand@thorntons-law.co.uk

Rosey

Rosey Scott
Associate

+44 1738 621212
rscott@thorntons-law.co.uk

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