A note on divorce in the UK

Marilyn Stowe

Marilyn Stowe’s ebook is a comprehensive guide to the every aspect of divorce and separation and is now in its second edition.

In this extract, she looks at the differences between Scotland and the rest of the UK when it comes to divorce law.

In the UK, “English law” applies in England and Wales. Northern Ireland has its own legal system, with law which more or less mirrors English family law, but Scotland stands alone with its own law and legal system. Scotland is an entirely separate jurisdiction, with a very different court structure (except that we share a Supreme Court, based in a superb building in Parliament Square, London) and its law is, in many respects, completely different.

In Scotland, there is sound cohabitation law. It does not give couples the same rights as married couples; however it does provide limited redress if the relationship between a cohabiting couple breaks down.

In Scotland the divorce process and financial settlements are also dealt with differently. In truth, to those of us accustomed to family law in England and Wales, the differences can be marked. For example, take the case of a non-working wife who is married to a man who was wealthy before their marriage, and who receives a substantial inheritance during their marriage. A divorce in Scotland could leave the wife far worse off, financially, than if the same case was heard in England. In England she could expect to share in all the assets, so that her capital needs and income needs would be met in full. In Scotland, however, she would be entitled to just half the matrimonial assets and a maximum of three years’ maintenance. Potentially, she would have no claim upon the assets her husband brought to the marriage, or upon his inheritance.

In the UK a divorce petition where there is a dispute between Scotland and the rest of the UK, the divorce can only proceed in the country in which the parties had their most recent matrimonial home. England and Wales are part of the same jurisdiction, they are not split. So if the marital home was in England or Wales, but the wealthier party relocated to Scotland and then attempted to get divorced there, this could be contested and the Scottish petition would be stayed.

Strict time limits in relation to the divorce petition apply in Scotland, as they do in relation to agreements between the parties. Financial disclosure is necessary before a court can ratify a financial settlement in England or Wales, but it is not necessary in Scotland.

If you are considering divorce in Scotland, or you are currently divorcing in Scotland, you should take advice from a family lawyer there at the earliest opportunity.

Divorce & Splitting Up: Advice from a Top Divorce Lawyer can be downloaded for just 99p here, with all profits going to the Children’s Society.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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1 comment

spinner - February 16, 2016 at 5:28pm

“Potentially, she would have no claim upon the assets her husband brought to the marriage, or upon his inheritance.” – This is not through any joint endeavour of the two parties of the marriage so why would they be considered joint matrimonial assets in England, very strange. Seems Scotland has it very right in this instance.

I think Scotland’s three years maintenance is a bit low and I prefer Florida’s new formula whereby there is some relationship between the length of the marriage and the length of spousal maintenance awarded.

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