Glossary of Terms

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


Legal “Advice & Assistance”

Is a type of “legal aid” which is for work that a solicitor does for a client prior to going to court such as giving initial advice, doing letters and negotiating settlements etc. It does not cover any work carried out in court proceedings. Eligibility for this type of legal aid is based on the person’s disposable income and/or if they are in receipt of certain benefits.

Legal Aid

Is financial assistance from the government for legal advice. There are different types of legal aid for civil cases and criminal cases. For civil cases, such as divorce, legal aid comes in two forms. Firstly, “Advice and Assistance” -which covers work done before going to court and secondly, “Civil Legal Aid”- which covers actual court actions. To qualify for Civil Legal Aid a person has to show firstly that they have a case to argue (ie, that their case has the “merits”), and secondly that they qualify on financial grounds. People who are entitled to legal aid sometimes often do not get their whole costs paid for and usually have to give back part of their eventual financial settlement to the legal aid fund to pay for some or all of their costs

Legal Separation

Is what many people ask for. Most people mean they want an agreement about their separation particularly what is to happen with the children/money matters etc without fighting about it in Court. If a married couple wish to separate but for religious reasons do not want to get a divorce they can apply to the court for an order known as a “Legal Separation” to sort out all their financial issues etc in the same way as a divorce would. This is now very rare and most people think of a legal separation as the legally binding separation agreement (joint minute of agreement) they sign to sort out their arrangements.