Wuhan sees divorce rate soar after lockdown is lifted

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/14 18:23:41

Photo: cnsphoto

Wuhan has reopened to see its divorce rate double, with family experts saying the rush for couples to separate is because of rising conflicts caused by the 70-day-long quarantine enforced in the central Chinese city.

Zhang Fujian, director of Wuhan Marriage and Family Committee, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the divorce rate in Wuhan has doubled from its level before the outbreak, as the divorce application procedure was suspended during the two-month lockdown.

"To my knowledge, one needs to wait for three to four days before applying for divorce at the local marriage administration because there are so many people applying," Zhang said, adding that this is the case at almost all marriage offices in Wuhan.

As people were forced to stay home during the COVID-19 outbreak, family conflicts have pushed those who were already in souring relationships toward divorce, experts said. Incidences of domestic violence also increased during the lockdown, which has contributed to the soaring divorce rate.

"Before the outbreak, some couples rarely spent much time together. During the outbreak,  arguments between couples on childcare, housework, cooking and grocery shopping was enough to increase tensions," Zhang said, adding that post-80s and post-70s generations are the most likely to divorce, and the majority of those have children.

As the virus prevention and control situation in Wuhan is getting better, marriage registrations were resumed from April 3, following approval from epidemic prevention and control headquarters, the Wuhan civil affairs bureau reported on its website.

A director of the Jiangan District branch of Wuhan's civil affairs bureau who asked to be anonymous told the Global Times on Tuesday that its marriage and divorce applications had dropped compared to before the outbreak.

"Applicants must make a reservation online two days in advance, and once their applications are approved they can come to the office. That is to control the flow of people amid the pandemic," he said, adding that as the risks persist, many who are not in a hurry to marry or divorce continue to stay home.

Although online application services are now available, divorce is not yet an easy process as couples fight on reallocation of properties and other issues. 

As the virus has not been completely contained, couples who only have one apartment to live in may find it difficult to divorce, Zhang said.

Zhang predicts the divorce rate will cool down in a month, partially because many are not receiving incomes during the pandemic and therefore cannot afford to pay for the costly divorce process.

"The more developed the economy, the more open-minded people are, so the divorce rate is high in big cities like Wuhan," he added.

Ding Yan, a senior marriage and divorce lawyer, told the Global Times on Tuesday that divorces are always common after the Spring Festival holiday, but they will be even more common this year to the outbreak.

"Before the outbreak, I used to get three to four calls concerning divorces in a day, and these days there are dozens of calls," Ding said. She said that on the day the lockdown was lifted, she received 10 calls about divorce.

Despite the increasing rate, Ding also noted that there are couples who had planned to divorce before the lockdown who have now decided to stay married after spending months together.

"People who wanted to divorce are indecisive after the lockdown," she said. "I think they know what they want now and are no longer hesitant about their marriage decisions after going through the pandemic."


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