China: Couples rush for getting divorce after new law requiring 'cooling-off' period kicks in

WION Web Team
Beijing, China Published: Feb 15, 2021, 03.45 PM(IST)

People line up at an office to register for marriage or divorce in Shanghai Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

The Chinese provision requires couples filing for separation to wait for a month before their request can be processed, in a bid to reduce divorce rates

Chinese couples are rushing to get divorced after a new law that requires a mandatory 30 days cooling-off period kicks in.

The Chinese provision requires couples filing for separation to wait for a month before their request can be processed, in a bid to reduce divorce rates.

The passage of this law met with outrage over state interference in private relationships.

Also read: Divorce appointments in China shoot up as self-quarantining becomes a way of life to battle COVID-19

After it was passed, the law became one of the top trending topics on China's Twitter-like platform Weibo, with over 25 million views of posts using the hashtag "oppose the divorce cool-off period".

The cooling-off period will not apply if one spouse is seeking divorce following domestic violence.

Ever since the marriage registration offices reopened on March 1 in most parts of China, the number of divorce cases have gone up. 

Offices in Xi'an of Shaanxi Province in north-western China have also witnessed a sharp rise in divorce appointments.

"We cannot even divorce freely?" wrote one user. "There must still be a lot of people who marry impulsively, they should set a cooling-off period for getting married as well!"

"They passed the divorce cooling-off period despite everyone's opposition online, which means their respect for public opinion is just for show," added another commentator.

China's divorce rate has increased steadily since 2003 when marriage laws were liberalised and as more women become financially independent.

Last year some 4.15 million Chinese couples untied the knot -- up from 1.3 million in 2003 when couples were first allowed to divorce by mutual consent without going to court.

Before then, divorce had to be obtained by one spouse suing another in court.

The new civil code will come into effect on January 1, 2021.

Other new laws include expanding the definition of sexual harassment, new protections against land grabs, and measures to allow people to donate the organs of dead relatives.

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