Glossary of Terms

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



This is when parties cease to live together as husband and wife or civil partners. This can occur when one party leaves the marital home. However, a husband and wife or civil partners who are living completely separate lives under the same roof will also be considered to have separated.

Sheriff Court

Is the place where you would normally raise court proceedings. Sometimes there is a choice of court but it is usually the court area in which either the husband or wife lives. In cases to do with children only (i.e. not divorce/separation), it will have to do with where the children live.

Sheriff Officers

Are “officers of the court” whom your solicitor will get to do things like serve court papers of the Defender.

Simplified Divorce

Is the same as a “quickie divorce”. A divorce under the simplified procedure is available where the grounds for the divorce are not disputed, where there are no children under the age of 16, and where there are no financial issues outstanding.


Is the term used for putting a court case on hold. It means the court case is not settled or disposed of and it can be revived if either side asks for it to be revived.

Specific Issue Order

Is an order under the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. It will deal with a specific issue in relation to a child, for example, the right to take a child on holiday outwith the UK or to move them to a different place.


Is a husband or wife.

Standard Security

The term used to describe a mortgage over a property.


This is the document which initiates most Court of Session actions.