China imposes cooling-off period on couples seeking divorce

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Beijing : Chinese courts have began to impose a cooling-off period on couples, seeking to legally separate, in an effort to check the increasing divorce rate in the country, authorities said on Monday.

More than a hundred courts in the country have imposed this measure on couples seeking divorce, which increased by nearly 40 percent in the last decade, as part of a pilot programme launched by the Supreme Court in 2016 to resolve domestic disputes, reports Efe news.

The programme is primarily directed at young couples, who according to the courts are "more susceptible to impulsive breakups".

During the cooling-off period, the couples receive marriage counselling, as well as a rundown of the divorce proceedings, including splitting property or sharing custody of children.

The anti-divorce programme comes as China seeks to promote family values and encourage couples to have more children, to counter-balance a lack of human resources in many regions owing to an increasingly ageing population, a fallout of the Communist government's hitherto strict one-child policy.

The measure also comes against the backdrop of an incident in Beijing in 2016, when a judge was shot dead by a man, who was unsatisfied with his divorce ruling.

China legalised divorce since the Communist regime came into power in 1949, although owing to the country's conservative culture, divorce cases were far and few until the 1980s.

According to data from 2016, China recorded around four million divorces annually, 37 per cent more than the 2.9 million in 2011.