China’s divorce rates rise, govt mulls 30-day cooling-off period for couples


According to data released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, divorces soared from 1.3 million in 2003 to more than 4.5 million in 2018.

The Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver starring “Marriage Story” about their broken marriage and child custody fight has sparked heated online discussions in China even before its release here.

Hardly surprising, it turns out, if the latest official data related to divorce in China is to be believed: The number of divorces in the country is expected to reach a record high in 2019 after posting increases for 15 consecutive years, says a state media report.

“Some 3 million couples have called their marriage off in the first three quarters of the year, 200,000 more than in 2018,” the tabloid Global Times said in a report on Tuesday.

“Divorces soared from 1.3 million in 2003 to more than 4.5 million in 2018,” revealed data released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA).

The new statistics added to fuel to an ongoing debate triggered last month by a speech given by Zhou Qiang, chief justice of China’s Supreme People’s Court at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Zhou revealed that 74 percent of divorces between 2016 and 2017 were initiated by women, adding that divorces came three years after marriage on average and most divorcing couples had an age gap between 0-3 years.

“The soaring divorce rate has drawn wide public attention and the related topic was viewed 200 million times on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo platform as of press time,” the Global Times report added,

The rising incidence of divorce in China, which has an ageing population and falling fertility rates can’t be looked at or monitored in isolation.

“Almost 15 percent of people in China are single. This number is set to rise. More divorce, more DINKS (dual income, no kids) and singles, fewer babies, rising costs and stress and a lack of open policies will not help solve the already low fertility rate in the country,” freelance writer Wendy Min pointed out in an opinion piece in the tabloid.

The Communist Party of China (CPC)-ruled government is aware of the situation.

A draft of China’s civil code to be submitted to next year’s annual session of the National People’s Congress or (the country’s rubber stamp-Parliament) for deliberation proposes a 30-day cooling-off period for couples who apply for a divorce.

Under the new provision, during the 30 days, either party can withdraw the divorce application from the marriage registration office.

Experts said that the cooling-off period could give buffer time for couples in general and especially those with young children to rethink their decision.

The critically acclaimed “Marriage Story” releases in China soon.