Cool off if you want a divorce in Shandong

Couples who want a divorce in east China's Shandong Province will now have to "cool off" for three months before they can legally call time on their union.

Couples who want a divorce in east China’s Shandong Province will now have to “cool off” for three months before they can legally call time on their union.

Anyone looking to annul their marriage in a court in Jinan, the provincial capital, will need to become “calm” and “reasonable” before proceeding with a split, Xinhua news agency reported.

Only those with a “just cause” may object to the new rule.

Court officials said that husbands and wives are too readily seeking a final dissolution when they should be working through their disagreements, and they have ordered the would-be divorcees to take time out to think things through.

Men Hongke, an official with the People’s Court in Jinan’s Shizhong District told Xinhua the measure was introduced because “judges frequently found that couples seeking divorce were not in a situation of irretrievable marriage breakdown.”

Many couples ask for an annulment impulsively or as a result of parental interference, Men said.

At the end of the cooling-off period, couples can either file for divorce as planned or request that their term of contemplation be extended.

There has been both praise and criticism of the new rules online, with some applauding the effort to uphold marriage, while others see it as undue overreach by the court.

Some social media users criticized the court for interfering in intimate affairs.

“I would rather recommend a ‘cooling-off period’ before you’re allowed to receive a marriage license,” was one comment.

Others pointed out how the measure could hurt domestic abuse victims.

“Why should they regulate whether I get a divorce?” was one question online. “If there’s domestic violence, I have to continue getting beaten for another three months?”

Though couples in China are still far more likely to stay married than their counterparts in the United States, divorce rates have surged in recent years.

According to the country’s ministry of civil affairs, the number of couples who untied the knot in 2016 — a total of 4.2 million — was 8.3 percent higher than in the previous year.

Special Reports