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Family Matters – Legal Considerations for Parents and Carers

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Can I get divorced before a year?

Published: 01 February 2022
Time to read: 2 mins

In Scotland the vast majority (over 90%) of divorce applications are made on the basis that the couple have been separated for more than one year (with both spouses consenting to the divorce), or for more than two years (no consent is needed). What if the couple haven’t been separated for a year? Is it possible to apply for a divorce earlier than that, or is it a case of waiting?

While the grounds of one year of separation with consent, or two years of separation, are the most common, it’s possible to make an application before that on the ground of the spouse’s unreasonable behaviour or their adultery. Family lawyers in Scotland rarely use adultery as a ground in practice, largely due to the evidential requirements, but also because any inappropriate relationship with a third party would also be classed as unreasonable behaviour. There is no minimum period of separation for an application on the ground of unreasonable behaviour.

There are a few points that should be considered:-

  1. In order to qualify for divorce within a year of separation a person needs to be able to demonstrate unreasonable behaviour on the part of their spouse, and have someone who can corroborate it.
  2. The simplified divorce procedure (sometimes called the DIY divorce or quickie divorce) is only available on the ground of one year of separation with consent or two years separation. If you want to divorce earlier than that on the ground of unreasonable behaviour you will need to use a more formal procedure, which is more expensive and requires a solicitor.
  3. Making an application for divorce on the ground of unreasonable behaviour involves setting out in detail the spouse’s perceived failings, which can be a hurtful and inflammatory thing to do. Particularly if a couple have children together, that can be a major consideration, and a reason to wait.

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