In this MaoMi Chinese podcast episode, I explore the introduction of a 30-day divorce cooling-off period in 2021, prompting reflection on its impact. While the law appears to have reduced divorce rates, things may not be so simple.
Hello, everyone! Welcome back to MaoMi Chinese!
Chinese people often say, "三思而后行" (sān sī ér hòu xíng), which means before making a decision, one should think carefully, at least three times, before proceeding with the decision. People also often say, "不要冲动，要冷静" (bù yào chōngdòng, yào lěngjìng), meaning "Don't be impulsive, stay calm." Especially when making life decisions, it is essential to think three times before acting and calmly reflect. For example, buying a house, finding a job, getting married, getting divorced, etc. In China, if people want to get divorced, they cannot do it immediately; instead, there is a cooling-off period called the "离婚冷静期" (líhūn lěngjìng qī).
In 2021, China introduced a law stating that if a husband and wife want to divorce, they need to apply at the Civil Affairs Bureau. After applying, they cannot divorce immediately; they will have a "离婚冷静期." This cooling-off period is generally thirty days. During this period, if either the husband or the wife changes their mind about divorce, they cannot proceed. If they are determined to divorce, they may have to file a lawsuit. After the cooling-off period, if the husband and wife still want to divorce, they can proceed with the legal process.
Why is there a cooling-off period for divorce? In recent years in China, the number of people getting married has been decreasing, while the number of divorces has been increasing, and there are fewer people having children. To reduce the divorce rate, the cooling-off period was introduced. How do Chinese people view this cooling-off period? Many people dislike it and consider it one of the worst laws. Some say, "If there's a cooling-off period for divorce, why not have one for marriage? It's so troublesome to get divorced; we should think carefully before getting married!" Others express, "Because of this cooling-off period for marriage, I'm even more reluctant to get married."
Due to the cooling-off period, many people who want to get divorced cannot do so. Some husbands may be violent, and their wives want a divorce but cannot proceed because their husbands don't want it. As long as they say they won't divorce during the marriage cooling-off period, it becomes challenging for their wives to pursue a divorce, and they might have to go through a lengthy legal process.
Is the cooling-off period for divorce really effective? In 2019, around 4.04 million couples divorced in China. By 2021, with the introduction of the cooling-off period, the number decreased to approximately 2.14 million divorces. It seems like there are fewer divorces, right? However, let's also look at the number of marriages: in 2019, around 10 million couples got married in China, while in 2021, only about 7.64 million couples tied the knot.
Do similar laws exist in your country? What are your thoughts on the cooling-off period for divorce? Feel free to leave us a comment on maomichinese.com and share your views!