Anger in China at law ordering ‘cooling-off’ period before divorce

30-May-2020 Intellasia | The Guardian | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Chinese couples seeking a divorce must first complete a month-long “cooling-off” period according to a new law passed on Thursday that has stirred a national debate over state interference in private relationships.

In an effort to lower divorce rates, China’s legislature approved a law that requires couples filing for separation to wait 30 days before their request can be processed. The measure, which was previously a recommendation implemented in some provinces, was met with widespread opposition when lawmakers first sought feedback last year.

On Thursday, the law internet users criticised the new rule part of China’s first civil code, approved on Thursday with posts under the hashtag “oppose divorce cooling off period” garnering more than 30m views.

“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!”

“The rulers think the masses are immature,” one user wrote. “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.

The cooling-off period only applies in cases where both parties are seeking the divorce. It will not apply if one spouse is seeking divorce following domestic violence.

Others questioned how judges would determine cases of domestic violence and whether the cooling-off period would leave some partners more vulnerable.

Cheng Xiao, vice president and professor of Law School of Tsinghua University, said the law still afforded couples the freedom to divorce.

“They may have quarrelled about family affairs and they are divorcing in a fit of anger. After that, they may regret it. We need to prevent this kind of impulsive divorce,” he told local media in Chengdu.

The country’s first-ever civil code, which comes into effect on 1 Jan, 2021, is a sweeping piece of legislation that will replace existing laws on marriage, adoption and property rights among others.

China’s divorce rate has increased steadily since 2003, when marriage laws were liberalised and as more women become financially independent, leading to “reckless divorces” becoming increasingly common and not conducive to family stability, an official told China Women’s Daily.

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


Category: China

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