In Scotland you are usually legally committed at an earlier stage – potentially within days of deciding you wish to purchase. If your decision is dependent on the sale of another property, obtaining a mortgage or satisfactory survey then that requires to be agreed in the contract with the seller. Solicitors can sign, on your behalf, the formal letters which constitute the Contract (Missives) and you can be legally bound to purchase without having signed any documentation.
When you note interest in a property, the seller is obliged to take your interest into account before accepting an offer from someone else. It does not guarantee you an opportunity to offer. If a closing date is set then you will be advised. More recognition is placed on a noted interest if it is submitted through your solicitor.
Normally a closing date is set by the selling solicitor when at least two prospective purchasers are ready to offer. It is a set time by which written offers are invited and considered. Usually, but not always, the highest offer is accepted. The seller does not have to accept any offer. Because prospective purchasers do not know the amount of competing bids, popular properties can command sale prices well over valuation.
The main elements of a property sale contract are normally the price, the settlement date when the keys are handed over (the date of entry) and what items are included in the price. Once those main elements have been agreed and a written offer submitted the selling solicitor will normally regard the property as under offer. It is the stage between agreement in principle and the conclusion of a legally binding contract. Viewers are not usually allowed while a property is under offer to avoid inconvenience and to discourage gazumping.
The Kellas Partnership is happy to provide, without obligation, a detailed written estimate of the likely costs. We provide a free pre-sale market valuation. To provide a reliable estimate, the details we require are: the approximate sale and / or purchase price (to the nearest £5,000), the approximate amount of any mortgage and the approximate location of the property (eg within a 10-mile radius of Inverurie, or in North-east Scotland).
Divorce action can be raised if you can establish that your marriage has broken down irretrievably. You must provide evidence that you have lived separately from your husband / wife for one year or more and that he / she consents to the action, or that you have lived separately for two years or more should your husband/wife not wish to consent to the action. You can also proceed with divorce on grounds of unreasonable behaviour or adultery.
You can proceed with a simplified divorce application if you have lived separately for one year or more and your husband / wife consents to the action. If he / she does not consent, you must have lived separately for two years or more. You can only proceed if there are no children of the marriage under the age of 16 and neither party to the marriage requires any orders for financial provision on divorce. These, however, may have been taken care of in a previous separation agreement. You must confirm that neither party to the marriage suffers mental disorder and that there are no other proceedings pending in any court relating to the breakdown of the marriage. Application forms can be obtained from The Sheriff Clerk’s office. These are completed and returned with your marriage certificate to the Sheriff Court requesting decree. You must also pay court dues, which are currently £120 (as at November 2016). It is worth talking to your solicitor to ensure that this is your best course of action.
On divorce, parties are entitled to a fair share of the net value of the matrimonial assets accumulated during the course of the marriage. The principle is to share all assets acquired by the parties during the effective period of the marriage and pertains to any property belonging to either or both of the parties at the date of final separation. Any debts accumulated by the parties during the course of marriage would be deducted from the value of the property, but some items of property would be excluded from the principle of equal sharing. It is therefore necessary to establish the value of all matrimonial assets and debts accumulated by the parties, and there are special circumstances justifying the departure from the norm of equal sharing. The Kellas Partnership is able to provide sound professional advice on how to deal with the sharing of these assets.
A party’s pension fund accumulated during the course of the marriage will be taken into account in establishing the value of the matrimonial assets. For divorce actions raised on or after 1st December 2000 pension sharing is available where there are pension rights involved. It is important that you seek proper advice as the sums involved are often substantial and the principle of pension sharing is complicated.
If the parties to a marriage agree on the care arrangements for the children to the marriage, quite often it is not necessary to involve the court. Should court orders be necessary The Kellas Partnership can advise on how to resolve these difficulties. Depending on their age, the court will often take into account the views of the child / children. It can be depressing for children to be involved in court proceedings, so it is recommended that agreement be reached on childcare arrangements. We will be able to guide you in this respect.
The Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 introduced new rights for cohabiting couples (including same sex couples). Should such a relationship terminate through separation or death there are very strict time limits within which you can claim these rights. On separation it is one year from the date of separation and, on death, the time limit is six months from the date of death. Should you consider yourself to fall within the category of a "cohabitant" then it is very important you seek urgent legal advice. The rights to which you are entitled are not straightforward and the time limits are strict and cannot be extended.