As family lawyers, questions we are often asked are: "Do I actually need a solicitor in order to get divorced or to get my civil partnership dissolved in Scotland?"
Our advice is always that you are better to get advice from an individual specialising in Scots family law, as early as possible, where you are in the situation that you have separated, or are considering separating from your spouse/civil partner. It is an area of law that is highly complex, with a great many factors required to be taken into account before taking any formal steps to divorce or dissolve the civil partnership.
In particular, before you even begin to think about entering into divorce or dissolution proceedings, you will need to ensure that both the financial aspect of your marriage or civil partnership is resolved, and that the care arrangements for any children are agreed. This is very often done by way of a Minute of Agreement (also known as a Separation Agreement).
Whilst many couples are able to reach agreement on most (if not all) of the necessary issues, it may be that you are not able to do so and therefore require input from a solicitor.
Once agreement has been reached, you will then require this to be written up into a formal contract, known as a Minute of Agreement.
Only then should you proceed to initiate divorce proceedings.
In Scotland, there are two ways to apply for a divorce.
1. Simplified Procedure. You may seek to use this procedure where all financial matters have been resolved by way of a Minute of Agreement, or there were no financial matters to resolve, and there are no children of the marriage under the age of 16. Whilst this is also referred to as a DIY Divorce, you may feel that you require a solicitor's assistance in order to complete the form, and will also need a notary public to notarise the form once complete.
2. Ordinary Procedure. Where financial aspects of your marriage are not resolved, or there are children under the age of 16, you will require to initiate divorce proceedings using the ordinary procedure – for which you will likely require legal advice from a specialist family lawyer.
Again, it is always important in such situations for you to know what your rights and responsibilities are, and so we would strongly urge you to come and speak to a family lawyer in our team if you find yourself in such a situation - or feel that you might be in the near future. We will happily meet with you in order to discuss what you are entitled to, what you are responsible for and the options available to you moving forward.