Divorce registrations plunge 70% in Q1 since cooling-off period introduced
Published: May 17, 2021 09:14 PM
divorce Photo: CFP

Photo: CFP

Since the cooling-off period policy introduced for divorce registrations at the beginning of this year, the number of registered divorces in China plunged in the first quarter after continuously rising for years, to only 296,000 cases, 70 percent lower than in the last quarter in 2020 and first quarter in 2019, official data showed.

Observers said the cooling-off period can help prevent impulsive divorces, and it has contributed to a plunge in divorces. Also, a policy to stop couples who tried to get divorced to evade home purchase limits has taken effect in many areas, which was another factor in the lower number of divorces nationwide.

According to China's Ministry of Civil Affairs, the number of divorces registered in the fourth quarter of last year was 1.06 million, and about 1.05 million couples registered for divorce in the first quarter of 2019, 72.15 percent and 71.76 percent higher than in the first quarter this year, respectively. 

There are two ways to get divorced in China. One is through divorce registration filed with civil affairs authorities, the other is through court judgment and mediation. The statistics in the report reflect divorce registrations filed with civil affairs departments, which constitute the majority of divorces.

How to get divorce in China Graphic: GT

How to get divorce in China Graphic: GT

Zhang Yi, a demographer and former deputy director of the Institute of Sociology of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday that there are many reasons for the decline in divorces, one of which was the introduction of the cooling-off period policy.

The policy, which took effect on January 1, is expected to reduce the increasing number of "impulsive divorces" seen in recent years, Zhang noted.

With a total number of 60 days before issuing the divorce certificate, the policy contains a 30-day cooling-off period, and another 30-day limit, which allows the couple to get their certificate from the local civil affairs bureau.

Another policy adopted by many areas in China that bans divorced couples from evading home purchase limits within two years after divorce apparently works, Zhang said.

In recent years, as home price hikes extended in cities, such as Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hangzhou, the cities resumed home purchase restrictions, while several others raised minimum deposits. In previous years, some couples risked getting a divorce in order to get their hands on their own little piece of a Chinese metropolis, as the locals divorced to take advantage of favorable policies for first-time buyers.

The economic rebound this year also contributed to improved living conditions and family relationships, which is another important factor in the divorce decline, Zhang said.

According to, Southwest China's Sichuan Province recorded 23,995 registered divorce cases in the first quarter, ranking top among all the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities in China, followed by Central China's Henan Province, which had 22,049, and South China's Guangdong Province, which reported 19,166 cases.

Zhang said the three provinces are populous, so it's reasonable that the number of divorces is relatively high in them, but that doesn't mean the divorce rates in theses provinces were ranked top.

There are many locals of Sichuan and Henan working outside of their home provinces, which could cause long-term separations of couples and even divorces, demographers said.

A staff member working in the civil affairs bureau in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan, expressed surprise at the rank, as she told the Global Times on Monday that the number of registered marriages and divorces has been relatively flat recently, with no obvious fluctuation.