Couples seeking divorce given some breathing space
A couple visits the Museum of Broken Relationships on Nanjing Road, Shanghai, last year. XING YUN/FOR CHINA DAILY
30-day cooling-off period offers time to reflect
After a monthlong "cooling-off" period, a woman surnamed Li, from Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, obtained her divorce certificate at the end of April.
Unable to divorce immediately after offering the necessary documents to civil affairs authorities, Li said she understood the need for time to cool off, as this had given her the opportunity to finally decide to go ahead with proceedings.
A new policy that took effect on Jan 1 as part of China's Civil Code, means couples must wait 30 days after submitting a divorce application. During this period, either party can withdraw the divorce petition.
If one party has second thoughts within the 30 days, the application becomes invalid and a new cooling-off period will start, meaning a couple must apply again when this period ends in order to terminate the marriage.
China is not the only country to have a cooling-off period. People seeking a divorce in other nations, including France and the United Kingdom, need to wait two weeks after submitting an application before their marriage can be ended.
Since the new policy took effect in China, Hu Xiaomin, a lawyer from Yuanshi Law Firm in Chengdu, has handled a rising number of inquiries about the cooling-off period through phone calls and visits.
The questions asked mainly center on how the cooling-off period is calculated and what should be done if the other party withdraws the application or transfers property within the 30 days.
Hu said, "Many clients, especially those born in the 1980s and 1990s, have prepared for the cooling-off period, but they turn to me for additional legal knowledge.
"Some people still wanted to end their marriage as quickly as possible, but they all accepted the fact that there is a time limit."
Hu explained why the one-month cooling-off period is widely accepted.
She said the 30 days can act as a "buffer" for couples attempting to divorce, adding that this period can be a final chance to avoid irrational separations.
"Most couples who are strongly determined to separate, and who have no disagreements about child custody and property allocation, actually don't mind waiting another month," she said. "Those who have difficulty in reaching agreement go to court for litigation."
The cooling-off period also helps couples deal with mood swings, Hu said.