Divorce is a social construct born out of human interaction. And because human interactions all over the world are varied, it comes as no surprise that divorce laws across the globe also have differences. Divorce laws can be straightforward or complicated; some can be pretty lax, while others can be strict about certain aspects.
Divorce is already a difficult process, but when you add in some of the strange laws that are out there, it can become even trickier. In this blog post, we will look at some of the most unusual divorce laws on the planet that give us a glimpse at how infinitely interesting — or odd — human societies can be.
Japan, where divorce is easy (but also not)
Divorces in Japan are often consensual, so the process can be very simple. If a couple mutually wishes to end their marriage, they can have a mutual consent divorce called “協議離婚” (kyogi rikon). They can simply sign and seal a standard one-page divorce form and be divorced right away without even having to go to court. This is very much the opposite of some divorces we’ve seen in the United States, many of which have even made us regret our career choice of being divorce lawyers.
However, Japanese divorce laws have no provision for the joint custody of children. While Japan has laws for child support, it does not include stipulations for visitation. So unless a couple completed their divorce in a country that has child custody provisions, Japanese children rarely see their other parent after a divorce.
Another thing about divorce laws in Japan is that women who are pregnant during the time of a divorce have to wait 100 days after ending a marriage before they can remarry. According to the Japanese government, this is to ascertain the legal father of any child born in that time period. This provision doesn’t apply to nonpregnant women, who can marry immediately after a divorce.
Welcome to the Philippines, the last place on earth where divorce is still illegal
The Philippines has a unique law when it comes to divorce: it is not recognized by the government. The country is one of the only two states in the world that has not legalized divorce, the other one being Vatican City. And because only the clergy and its Swiss Guards are allowed to reside in the Vatican, the Philippines is technically the last country in the world where divorce isn’t legal.
This means that couples who want to get divorced must choose one of two options to end a marriage: legal separation or annulment. Legal separation may only be granted if one spouse can prove that their partner is guilty of infidelity, physical abuse, drug or alcohol addiction, homosexuality, or abandonment. Meanwhile, an annulment may only be possible if a party can prove fraud or mental incapacity during the marriage. Both legal separation and annulment can be expensive and may even take years to complete.
Note, though, that Filipino citizens can get divorced and remarry if they were married to a foreign national and if the divorce was finalized in their spouse’s country of residence.
Aboriginal Australians can teach us a lesson or two about divorce
Divorces in the US can take several years to complete, but in Australia’s Aboriginal community, it can be as easy as a woman asking her husband for a divorce. If the husband says yes, then their marriage is over. When the couple stops cohabitating and their respective parents have agreed to their separation, they are recognized by the community to be divorced.
However, unilaterally terminated divorces can be violent. If a wife eloped or left her husband without the latter’s consent, the husband might try to recruit the help of his kin to bring her back and punish her and/or her lover. Similarly, if a wife doesn’t approve of her husband’s involvement with another woman, customary law says that she can rightfully and publicly fight her husband’s new lover.
The capital “E” in Egypt doesn’t stand for “equality”
For the longest time, Egypt followed Islamic law when it came to divorces. This meant that men could immediately divorce their wives by simply saying “I divorce you” three times, or by filing a divorce notice with the marriage registrar. By contrast, women had to prove psychological or physical abuse in order to be granted a divorce.
In 2000, Egypt accepted no-fault divorces, but there’s still a long way before Egyptian women can face equal access to family courts and protections under the law. While a woman can file for a no-fault divorce, she must give up all their financial and property rights and repay the dowry her husband gave to her family upon marriage. And if she wants any kind of support from her ex, she must provide eyewitnesses to testify that her husband harmed her during their marriage.
While getting a divorce is never going to be an easy process, country- or community-specific laws can add an extra layer of complication. If you find yourself in the middle of a divorce in the Evergreen State, be sure to consult with Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams. We have 32 years of experience in dealing with family law, and you can count on us for dedicated, personal legal advice. Schedule an appointment today.