Under consideration PE1973: End the use of Sheriffs Discretion when ruling on civil cases and provide clear legal guidance on division of assets.

Calling on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to review the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 and provide greater clarity on the division of assets in cases of cohabitating couples who are separating by:

  • Removing the use of Sheriffs Discretion rulings in civil cases;

  • Providing clear legal guidance to the Law Society of Scotland on the division of assets for cohabitating couples;

  • Allowing appeals to be heard where it is determined that a Sheriff has the rule of law wrong but have used their discretion to prevent an appeal, at no cost to the appellant; and

  • Publishing information on what resources have been allocated to provide clear legal guidance.

Previous action taken

I have contacted my MSP David Torrance several times regarding this issue. He has been unable to obtain any information on the progress of the relevant guidance.

I have also sought information and guidance from a solicitor, QC and The Law Society of Scotland. They have stated that they await the Scottish Government guidance on this issue.

Background information

For years the lack of clarity in the law regarding the division of assets of cohabitating couples has allowed perhaps unnecessary cases to take up valuable court time.

Clarity on this issue could resolve these matters without a court hearing,
saving both parties considerable costs and, in certain cases, legal aid funding.

Providing clear legal guidance would also prevent the likelihood of solicitors unnecessarily prolonging cases to gain more revenue.

My MSP advised me to create this petition as he was not getting answers on these issues. We have sought answers for well over a year and no response has been issued. The lack of clarity causes unnecessary stress, anxiety and confusion to the separating couple at a time where emotions are already elevated. This can cause mental health problems adding stress to other services.

  • Created by Sandy Izatt
  • Considered from 21 September 2022

This petition is now under consideration by the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee

Find out about the Citizen Participation and Public Petitions Committee’s discussion of this petition

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