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Divorces rate fall 70% in China after government introduces cool off Period for couples

CHINA: The number of divorces recorded in China has dropped by more than 70% since the mandatory "cooling" period was introduced earlier this year.

Divorces rate fall 70% in China after government introduces cool off Period for couples
Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

 According to figures released by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, 296,000 divorces were registered in the first quarter of 2021, compared with 1.06 million in the last quarter - a decrease of 72%. There has been a decrease of almost 52% annually, from 612,000 in the first quarter of 2020.

Under the new Civil Code which came into effect on January 1, couples filing for divorce must wait 30 days after filing their application, during which time either party may file a complaint. They must re-apply after the end of the month for the marriage to end.

This law, based on domestic law, which is already in effect in several parts of the country, has been widely criticized as a violation of personal liberty and a potentially dangerous form of marriage. But supporters in the state media defended this as "ensuring family stability and social order."

Divorce has been on the rise in China over the years, resulting in less social discrimination and greater independence for women, with women promoting more than 70% of divorces, according to the All-China Women's Federation.
This has removed fears from some policy makers, a trend coming as authorities are urging people to have more children in order to eradicate the human time bomb.

"Marriage and procreation are closely related. The decline in the marriage rate will affect the birth rate, which in turn affects the economic and social status of the country," Yang Zongtao, a senior official at the Department of Public Affairs, told a news conference last year.

"This issue must be prioritized," he said, adding that the Department "will develop appropriate social policies and promote deceptive efforts to guide communities to establish good values ​​for love, marriage and family."
Cooling time is an important part of this push, as well as people’s encouragement to get married and for women to have children rather than work. Last year, there were reports of a couple rushing to divorce before the start of the dating season.

China is not the only country with cooling times - both France and the United Kingdom are making a couple seeking divorce in agreement and waiting between two and six weeks in a row to end their marriage. Chinese authorities have defended the laws as a barrier to "non-hasty" divorce, adding that in the case of domestic violence cases parties can still file for divorce in court.

However, this option is more time-consuming and expensive than applying for a divorce with the government. A 2018 report by China's Supreme Court of Human Rights found that 66% of divorce cases were dismissed at the first hearing.
"Very few divorce cases can be allowed in the first case," Chen Jiaji, a Shanghai lawyer in divorce, told the local Sixth Tone store last year. "Divorce cases usually last at least six months, and the most serious cases can last a year or two."

Numerous reports have confirmed the unpopularity of the cooling season, seen by many as an unnecessary reduction of human freedom recently gained in China. After a woman in Hubei province was reportedly killed by her husband in January this year, some online accounts link her death to a cooling off.

This week there was a concerted action by local authorities to suspend the registration of the divorce on May 20, one of the most informal days known as "Chinese Valentine's Day."

Officials in Hunan and Guizhou provinces said they would not accept new divorces on the day - which sounded like "I love you" in Mandarin and it is now a popular time for couples to celebrate - but they changed course after widespread complaints online, state media reported.

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