Act of Restricting Divorces: Reasonable But Illegal

August 18, 2014
By Zhang Chen, Liu YangEditor: Yang Yang
Act of Restricting Divorce: Reasonable But Illegal
Chang'an District Bureau of Civil Affairs in Xi'an has carried out a restriction scheme in an attempt to lower the divorce rate, declaring that at most 15 couples are allowed to go through divorce procedures each day. [Xinhua]

Chang'an District Bureau of Civil Affairs in Xi'an, capital city of northwest China's Shannxi Province, has carried out a restriction scheme in an attempt to lower the divorce rate, declaring that at most 15 couples are allowed to go through divorce procedures each day. The move has raised public concerns and sparked controversies.

According to the Bulletin on 2013 Social Service Development Statistics, the Civil Affairs Developments department of the China and Marriage Registration Institution dealt with 3.5 million divorce cases in 2013, an increase of 12.8 percent year on year.

Among this growing number of divorce cases, the strong possibility exists that some couples divorced impulsively without fully considering the ramifications of their decision. However, the Xi'an Bureau of Civil Affairs' move to place a limit on the number of divorces is still suspected of violating the law.

Based on the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, it is stipulated that there should be no violations of the freedom of marriage (for heterosexual couples at least). According to the provisions of the Marriage Law in China, "Divorce shall be granted if the husband and wife both desire it. Both parties shall apply to the marriage registration office for divorce. The marriage registration office, after clearly establishing that divorce is desired by both parties and that appropriate arrangements have been made for the care of any children and the disposition of property, shall issue the divorce certificates." All of these indicate that if the both sides are willing to divorce in accordance with the law, departments of civil affairs have no right to "limit the number" of divorces.

In addition, in order to decrease the divorce rate, the relevant departments shall patiently persuade couples who are going to divorce to explore a family coordination mechanism within the scope of the law so as to help couples think over their decisions.

(Source: Xinhua / Translated by Women of China)

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