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How quickly can Non Celebrity couples Divorce?

How quickly can Non Celebrity couples Divorce?

Many people will have read this weeks news that Brad Pitt and Angela Jolie are set to divorce after only two years of marriage. It would seem that divorce in America, in some respects at least, is easier than in Scotland.

Jolie has reportedly filed for divorce (or more properly, an annulment of the marriage) citing ‘irreconcilable differences’ as the reason. Although the couple have been together since 2004, they only married in August 2014. The date of separation is allegedly only a few days ago, 15 September 2016.

Annulments are not as easy in Scotland as it would seem in the USA. Declarator of Nullity of Marriage is incredibly rare here. It is a costly way to proceed and you must meet strict criteria and produce certain evidence to the court. For non-celebrities it is simply not a realistic option. Instead a regular divorce is the way forward.

In Scotland there is only one ground of divorce i.e. irretrievable breakdown of marriage. It can be proved in the following four ways:-

1.)    One year’s separation with your spouse’s consent;

2.)    Two year’s separation without your spouse’s consent;

3.)    Adultery; or

4.)    Unreasonable behaviour.

If you can prove either adultery or unreasonable behaviour then you can ask the Court for a divorce immediately. Due to issues of proof and costs however (we don’t all have a “net worth” of millions of pounds or dollars!) this isn’t particularly common. Instead most people wait until one of the other grounds is available.

It is preferable for you and your spouse to agree all financial matters, with the assistance of family law solicitors, in advance of applying for a divorce if possible. This can be written into a Minute of Agreement by us and signed by both of you and your spouse. If financial matters can’t be agreed between you and your spouse then we can ask the Court to decide on these.

If you and your spouse have resolved all financial issues prior to divorce and you have no children under the age of 16, then you should be able to proceed by way of aSimplified Divorce. This can be completed by us on your behalf in around 6 – 8 weeks.

If there are outstanding financial issues and/or children under the age of 16 then a more complicated court Procedure, called Ordinary Procedure, applies in Scotland. This will take longer and the total time for you to obtain a divorce will depend on the circumstances of your particular case.

It remains to be seen how complicated or otherwise the ‘Brangelina’ divorce will be. There are children involved, and no doubt various financial issues to be considered. After all, celebrities still face the same main issues on separation as us non-celebs.

Cheryl Wallace is a Senior Solicitor in our Family Law Team. If you have any questions about separation or divorce, or any other family law matter, then please contact Cheryl on 01334 652285 or

Posted by Cheryl Wallace


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