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Separation from bed and board continued to be allowed in exceptional circumstances, usually adultery and under the reformed Kirk divorce was allowed on grounds of adultery or desertion.

Scotland was one of the first countries to allow desertion as legal grounds for divorce and, unlike England, divorce cases were initiated relatively far down the social scale.

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Mr Mac Askill will also make a statement to Parliament tomorrow.

Marriage in Scotland is recognised in the form of both civil and religious unions between individuals.

The legal minimum age to enter into a marriage in Scotland is sixteen years and does not require parental consent at any age.

There is a distinction between so called religious marriages, conducted by an authorised celebrant, and civil marriages, conducted by a state registrar but anyone over the age of 21 can apply to the Registrar General for authorisation to conduct a marriage under s12 of the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977 and no form of religious ceremony is necessary.

In the late Middle Ages and early modern era, women could marry from the age of 12 (while for boys it was from 14) and, while many girls from the social elite married in their teens, most in the Lowlands married only after a period of life-cycle service, in their twenties.

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