Chinese government limits number of divorces

Getting divorced is never an easy thing, but a city district in northwestern China wants to make it just a bit harder.

Since March 2012, the civil affairs bureau in Chang’an District of Xi’an City — an urban area with more than 1 million residents — has limited the number of divorce filings to no more than 15 a day. Couples eager to part ways but arriving too late are told to return together the next day.

This little-known local rule became a hot topic nationwide last week after a divorcing couple failed to obtain a slot and complained to state media.

Amid a barrage of criticisms of a wrongheaded government agency interfering with civil liberties, officials defended their “well-intentioned” system.

“It’s aimed at saving families from impulsive divorces,” Lin Wenhui, head of marriage registration at the Chang’an civil affairs bureau, told state media. “Some couples, even after getting a slot, eventually decided not to file for divorce after having some time to calm down and think it through.”

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