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A Testing Approach to Divorce

Opinion is split over a judge's decision to make couples take a test before granting a divorce, but a commentator argues society may be better off and should give the approach a chance

By Xu Mouquan Updated Sept.29

A young couple from Yibin County in Southwestern China’s Sichuan Province was asked by the court to take a test while filing for divorce, which included questions like “What day is your anniversary?” and “Do you both share the housework or not?” The couple were not granted a divorce as their test scores were quite high. The decision in this case has sparked controversy, but a commentary in Shanghai-based news portal The Paper argues the approach might be worth a try.   

In the view of the judge who came up with the approach, the test helps courts find the problems within a marriage, and determine whether it is savable. This will also guide couples to reflect on themselves, with the ultimate purpose of forming a fair judgment, according to commentator Gan Qiongfang.    

Supporters of the idea point out it can prevent couples from filing for divorce on impulse and give the wrongdoer a chance to rebuild family happiness, she noted. Besides, it follows the conventional principles in judging a divorce case - persuading the couple to stay united, rather than divorcing.

Others said that it might only solve the immediate problem, but will not address the fundamental issues, because when a couple wants a divorce, the problems must have accumulated for a long time to an irreconcilable point, Gan wrote. Still others take a more radical view, refuting it as completely unreasonable - divorce is a decision to be made only by the couple and if they want one, the court should grant it.  

Gan, however, pointed out that divorce is not just a personal legal matter, but also a societal issue, as whether families are happy or not affects society’s stability. Marriage is a key link to maintain family ties.

The commentator concluded that instead of totally rejecting this new approach, people should accept it first with an open mind, design a rigorous scientific process for the test, and judge the outcome with the passing of time and through more practice.