Glossary of Terms

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


Grounds of Divorce

There are only two grounds of divorce in Scotland (1) the recognised gender change of either party to the marriage and (2) the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. However, the ways in which the law states that the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage can be established are often referred to as the “grounds for divorce.” The “immediate” grounds for divorce are adultery and unreasonable behaviour. There are also two grounds based on the length of time the parties have lived separately for. These are also referred to as the “no fault grounds”. That is a period of separation is excess of one year where the “defender” consents to the divorce or a period of separation in excess of two years (no consent required.

Grounds of Referral

The grounds of referral are the grounds a Reporter has to refer a child to the Children’s Panel for the Panel to consider making protective orders.


A parent with parental rights and responsibilities in respect of a child can appoint someone to be a guardian to their child in their Will. A Court can also appoint a guardian to a child in a Court action. Whether appointed by the Court or as a result of a Will the guardian has parental responsibilities and rights to the child similar to a parent when the guardianship comes into effect. The guardianship under a Will does not come into effect until the writer of the Will’s death. A court order is immediate.