Information for same-sex couples on ending a marriage or civil partnership
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Ending a marriage or civil partnership

When you end a civil partnership it is called a Dissolution. Ending a marriage is called Divorce.

The partner (husband/wife or civil partner) wanting to dissolve civil partnership or divorce is called the applicant. In Scotland there are two legal grounds for divorce or civil partnership dissolution:

  • the marriage has broken down irretrievably
  • one of the partners to the marriage has an interim gender recognition certificate

If you are getting divorced on the grounds that your marriage or civil partnership has broken down irretrievably you or your partner will have to clearly demonstrate this, which can be proven by:

  • adultery – this reason is only available for a divorce and specifically refers to ‘sexual intercourse with someone of the opposite sex outside marriage’
  • unreasonable behaviour – this can include having a sexual relationship with someone else regardless of their gender
  • you have lived apart for at least one year and you both agree to the divorced
  • you have lived apart for at least two years but one of you doesn't agree to the divorce

Alternatives to a divorce or dissolution

Other methods of ending a marriage or civil partnership are a decree of nullity, presumption of death and separation orders.

Do you need legal advice?

If you have no children under 16 and can agree about how to deal with your money and property you can use a simplified procedure to get a divorce or dissolution, which means you don't have to use a solicitor so you can keep the costs of the divorce low. If you have children under 16, it is advisable to seek legal advice before you apply for divorce or dissolution, who will advise on whether you meet the grounds for divorce and support you to draw up an agreed settlement. If you cannot reach an agreement on a divorce or dissolution settlement it is is essential that you seek the advice of a solicitor.

Remember, there could be implications of the dissolution for yours or your partners children, your pensions and finances.

For further information on divorce and dissolution, see the Citizen's Advice Bureau's guidance.