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Cooling-off period for divorce supported by legal experts

By CAO YIN | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-06-18 07:59

Chen Jie, who works at the civil affairs bureau in Chenghua district in Chengdu, Sichuan province, said he met some couples who remarried two or three days after they divorced, and some who have even married and divorced several times, according to a report by Sichuan-based news outlet Cover News on June 6.

Yu, the lawyer, also said she might receive more than 900 calls a year from clients expressing their anger with their marriages and willing to divorce, but after a few days half the callers would tell her they were just arguing and don't really want to break up.

"Such impulses are not responsible actions for a relationship and a family," Yu said. "Divorce is not only for two people, but also relates to their children, property and the whole society."

Xia Yinlan, a law professor at China University of Political Science and Law, told China Central Television in an interview in May that the cooling-off period is a "time buffer" for couples attempting to divorce, calling their attention to using their legal rights prudently and asking them to shoulder more responsibilities for their marriages and families.

Liu Jiecen, a lawyer with the family legal counseling team at Beijing Yinghe Law Firm, said impulse divorces often occur among young couples, and they sometimes can't reach agreements on child custody and property allocation.

"The cooling-off period is an opportunity for those couples and will play a greater role in urging them to better deal with their domestic problems before they divorce," she added.

In response to situations of domestic violence or abuse, Xia, the professor, suggested they root out the problem by litigation, saying couples in such extreme situations have difficulty reaching an agreement to divorce.

"Intervention from public powers, including from public security authorities and courts, will give stronger protection for victims of domestic violence," she told CCTV.

The media quoted Xia as saying that victims can apply for personal protection orders in court first, and if domestic violence is identified, judges will end the marriage without hesitation.

Cao Qiaoqiao, a judge from Beijing Xicheng District People's Court said a common divorce litigation takes about three to six months. But if defendants are found to have committed bigamy, are taking drugs, gambling, or being physically or mentally abusive to their spouses, courts will approve divorces in the first hearing.

"There is no unlimited freedom. Marriage is no exception," he said. "The divorce process via government agencies in our country was too easy. Some people have not been clearly distinguishing a 'dead marriage' from an 'ill marriage', leading to reckless divorces."

According to Cao, divorces in some European nations must be done through litigation, "which is to let people know marriage is not a trifling matter."

Cao noted a few civil affairs departments have invited third-party institutes to participate more in mediating domestic disputes, helping couples realize the roots of their "marital illnesses" and solve the problems sensibly.

But lawyer Liu still expressed concerns, saying it is too hard for victims to prove they were subjected to domestic violence.

"The damages sometimes are difficult to see or even invisible, such as by insults or abusing someone without scars, so it is not always easy for domestic violence to be identified in court," she said.

Therefore, she suggested lawmakers lower the threshold of evidence identification and review this situation as soon as possible to better protect victims' rights and reduce divorce costs.

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