Headlines reading that Cheryl Fernandez-Versini was divorced in England in 14 seconds might mislead readers into thinking that the whole process of separation and divorce is straightforward and perfunctory, at least for celebrities. They also tend to suggest that the divorce itself is the most important part of the process which is another misconception.

In Scotland, one spouse will typically apply for a simplified divorce or “quickie divorce” where there are no children of the marriage under the age of 16 and when they have lived apart from their spouse for a year and their spouse consents – or when the couple have lived apart for two years (whether or not the other spouse consents). This process will only run smoothly, however, when neither spouse wishes to make a financial claim against the other. In most such cases the divorce will follow after the couple have agreed the terms of their separation and decided how to divide the matrimonial property. In these circumstances, there is no court hearing to determine the matter and the divorce will be granted by a Sheriff, in chambers, if satisfied with the information provided in the forms including the applicant’s affidavit (sworn statement).

The challenge for many spouses on the breakdown of their marriage is in reaching agreement regarding the terms of a financial settlement. This can be a lengthy and demanding process. There can be difficulties in identifying the extent of the matrimonial property and in valuing the assets. There can be disputes about non matrimonial assets which have been converted into matrimonial property. The family law team at Brodies offers a full range of options for dispute resolution including traditional negotiation, Collaborative practice, family law mediation and arbitration which, if successful, avoid the need for contested court hearings and allow for the divorce to follow as a formality-albeit not usually in 14 seconds! For further information visit bfamily.brodies.com