Calm down, no quick divorce in Cixi

IN China, couples can get divorced in less than half an hour, but a city in east China’s Zhejiang province has introduced a policy requiring couples to wait for a week before they can get divorce. And many couples seem to have now changed their mind.

After a week, 336 of the 650 couples who applied for divorce in Cixi area did not show up at the divorce office, authorities told Xinhua. The new divorce policy was introduced on a trial basis early this year in Cixi area of Ningbo city. "We saved 336 families (from divorce)," said He Guoxin, Director of the social affairs department of Ningbo Civil Affairs Bureau.

Many couples, especially young couples born in the 1980s, came to the divorce office on impulse, and the delay helps them to calm down, He said.

He said the city’s re-marriage rate proved that many divorces were driven by impulse. The remarriage rate climbed to 18.5 per cent in 2010 from 9.2 pe rcent in 2006. "Some young couples remarry three days after they divorce," He said.

"It is too easy to divorce, which makes some couples leave each other without a second thought," said Luo Xianlin, general manager of a match-making website, based in Zhejiang, and Director of Zhejiang Match-making Professional Committee.

China cancelled the one-month approval time for divorce in 2003.

The nation’s divorce rate has climbed over the past decades to 30 to 40 per cent in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai. The country recorded only 341,000 divorces in 1980. The number jumped to 1.21 million in 2000, and reached 2.21 million in 2011. Shang Shaohua, a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, proposed to establish a calm-down period for couples seeking divorce in 2010 during the "two sessions" of the National People’s Congress.

The divorce reservation policy was first implemented in Qingdao city in Shandong province at the beginning of this year. The divorce reservation gives the two sides a chance to calm down.

The rising divorce rate reflects the rise of self-consciousness, but also indicates instability in society, said Yan Shan, another marriage expert.

The new method should to be expanded to cover more parts of the country, and the calm-down period could be extended to more than a week, Yan said. "Divorce reservation is common in other countries. The period is one to three months in the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and nine months in England," Yan said.