In an interview with GQ style which was released at the weekend, Brad Pitt acknowledged that he has recently given up alcohol and drugs, following a lifetime of substance abuse. He had continued with this behaviour during his marriage to Angelina Jolie.

Whilst he did not go so far as to say that this was the reason behind his separation from Angelina in September 2016, he did cite his separation as something which had been a "huge generator for change".

In Scotland, there is only one ground for divorce. That is the "irretrievable breakdown of the marriage".

A marriage has broken down irretrievably if one of four things is proven:-

(a) That a party to a marriage committed adultery

(b) That a party to a marriage behaved unreasonably

(c) That a married couple have been separated in excess of 1 year and both parties wish to divorce

(d) That a married couple have been separated in excess of 2 years (the consent of the other party is not required)

The conduct Brad appears to be admitting to would certainly fall within the realms of "unreasonable behaviour".

This covers a whole host of behaviours including substance and domestic abuse. Even behaviour which could be considered to be more "passive aggressive", such as ignoring your spouse for prolonged periods can be classed as "unreasonable behaviour".

This "catch all" option is often used when adultery has not been committed (or cannot be proven) and when spouses have not been living apart long enough to secure a divorce.

This contrasts with the position in England where the rules appear to be much stricter.

Brad went on in the interview to state that he and Angelina had decided to work together to try and sort out the issues arising from their separation.

Presumably these include not only financial matters but also those relating to the care of their six children.

That is an approach which is to be commended.

If these arrangements can be agreed, securing the divorce itself is usually relatively straightforward, in Scotland assuming that the marriage has indeed broken down irretrievably.


Donna McKay

Legal Director