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Married owner occupiers and the law on relationship breakdown

A number of pieces of legislation will need to be considered when a marriage comes to an end.

This content applies to Scotland

Matrimonial law

The acts which have an impact on the resolution of disputes between spouses are the Family law (Scotland) Act 1985 and the Matrimonial Homes (Family Protection) (Scotland) Act 1981.

Matrimonial disputes can be dealt with either by the local sheriff court or the Court of Session.

The Family Law (Scotland) Act gives the court extensive powers to decide the division of all property between spouses in the long term. It can make an order for transfer of property or payment of a capital sum or periodical allowance only in an action of divorce. (A periodical allowance is a regular payment of a specific sum of money.) This means that spouses can only ask the court to decide the long term outcome of property disputes when they have reached the stage of divorce, not simply separation.

The Matrimonial Homes (Family Protection) (Scotland) Act gives married couples the right to apply to the court for an order regulating occupation of the matrimonial home and supplementary orders and payment of joint expenses relating to the matrimonial home before divorce.

Property law

Property law in this context is derived from both the common law and statutes such as the Conveyancing and Feudal Reform (Scotland) Act 1970. Property law explains the position of any owner in relation to the matrimonial home and any other property owned by the spouses, either individually or jointly.

Abuse or harassment

If there are any issues in relation to abuse or harassment, there are other pieces of legislation that may also be of use, regardless of the relationship between the parties involved.

For more information, please see the section on housing and domestic abuse.

Last updated: 6 August 2020