Glossary of Terms

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The following is a useful glossary of family law related terms used in Scotland:


Declarator of Paternity and Declarator of Non-Paternity

Declarator of Paternity is an order of the Court to find someone to be the biological parent of a child. Declarator of Non-Paternity is an order of Court finding someone registered as a parent or presumed to be the biological parent of a child not to be the parent. The Register of Births can be changed as a result of a Declarator of Paternity or Declarator of Non-Paternity on the application of a person who has parental rights and responsibilities in respect of the child.


Defences are the written “answers” and explanations to a Court case as to why the Court orders applied for should not be granted, or, alternatively should not be granted in full. Defences in family actions can include craves (request) for any orders the Defender to the action would like the Court to make.

Defended Action

A defended action is a Court case in which a person receiving the Court papers has lodged Defences to dispute the case against them.


Desertion was an old ground for divorce prior to the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006. Desertion was abolished as a ground for divorce on 4 May 2006.


Diligence is carried out by Sheriff Officers on the instructions of Solicitors to enforce payment of money provided for in a Registered Agreement or a Court order.

Dissolution (Civil Partnership)

Dissolution of a Civil Partnership is when the Court makes an order that the union of the civil partnership is at an end. The marriage equivalent to dissolution of a civil partnership is divorce.


Divorce is when a Court makes an order that the union of marriage is at an end. The civil partnership equivalent is “dissolution”.


The country in which a person is domiciled is the country in which they consider their “permanent home” to be, even if they are not residing in that country at present. A person’s place of domicile is a ground of jurisdiction in some Court actions.