“Too Much Time Together”: Divorce Applications in China Spike Since Coronavirus Outbreak
They say that tragedy can bring people together. It seems the coronavirus outbreak has been doing quite the opposite, at least among some married couples in China.
Since the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic in that country, which prompted widespread quarantines and imposed strict self-isolation measures and protocols, there are official reports of a noticeable spike in divorce applications. As several news sources indicate, one Chinese marriage registry office in Dazhou, in Sichuan Province recorded an unprecedented 300 new divorce applications in a span of only a few weeks, from late February to early March, 2020. Another registry office in the city of Xi-an, in Shaanxi Province, received a record-high 14 divorce applications in a single day, which is the upper allowable limit set by the local council. And in Fuzhou, in Fujian Province, where divorce applications are made by appointment, officials have capped the number of available time-slots at 10 per day, in response to an overwhelming number of requests.
According to speculation by officials working in some of the registry offices, the main reason for this dramatic upsurge is that – with the mandatory quarantine and self-isolation measures – married couples were “spending too much time together at home”.
The spike in applications might also be more pronounced because of administrative back-ups, since many Chinese government offices had been closed for nearly a month during the height of the virus outbreak. Interruptions in routine processing may have resulted in a backlog, which is now being cleared up as these offices re-open.
On the other hand, at least some of these divorce requests seem to have arisen sheerly from marital hot-headedness: Chinese officials also report that a percentage of these disgruntled spouses quickly regretted their decisions: After receiving an administrative over-the-counter divorce that sometimes takes as little as 30 minutes, they decided to re-marry soon after.