“What is the best memory between you and your partner?”; “How many times have you travelled together?”; “What is your partner’s favourite food?”; “What is your child’s favourite snack?”
These are some of the questions in a “divorce test” introduced last week by a civil affairs department in China’s eastern Jiangsu province for couples applying to end their marriages, one of many government measures brought in to stem the rising tide of divorces in the country, The Guardian reported.
Couples who score above 60 on the exam, which also asks for the dates of anniversaries and birthdays, still “have hope”, according to a post by the Lianyuwang city government on Weibo. Those who score below can conclude their marriage is “about to break.”
“The aim is to let both sides understand themselves, and the other side, and recall little moments in their marriage,” the department said, according to the state-run news outlet Global Times.
For more than a decade, divorce rates in China have been rising. Last year, 3.4 million Chinese couples filed for divorce, an increase of 8% from the year before, according to the ministry of civil affairs. In 1995 just over one million couples divorced, after new laws made it easier to separate. In 1979, only 319,000 Chinese couples registered for divorce.
Chinese authorities have been trying to stop the trend, caused by a combination of factors including the increasing financial independence of Chinese women and growing intolerance of domestic violence and extramarital affairs.
President Xi Jinping in 2016 called families the “cells of the society” and called on all Chinese to “promote fine family culture.” China’s Supreme Court that year urged courts handling divorce petitions to distinguish when couples are in a state of “marital crisis” or “marital death” and to try to save marriages when possible.
Several courts have required couples who wish to divorce to first observe a three-month “cooling off” period before finalising their separation. In Guangdong province, couples have to attend mediation classes.
After criticism online of the divorce test, the department in Lianyuwang clarified that the exam is purely voluntary. The department told local media most couples had refused to take the test. The three that did take the test continued to register their divorce.
After internet users said a test before getting married might be more useful, the department began offering a voluntary “marriage examination” of 10 questions, and free marriage counselling.