Couples in Chinese city get divorced to save their house

Last Updated: Fri, Dec 07, 2012 08:20 hrs

Beijing, Dec 7 (IANS) Couples in a Chinese city are scrambling to get divorced following a new regulation that restricts the size of houses in rural areas.

Xie Qingtong, a 58-year-old farmer in Da'ao village, in Yunyan district, Guiyang, said he had no choice but to divorce his wife, Zeng Lihong, in November.

They got divorced to protect the 500-square-metre house they built seven years ago, reported Global Times Friday.

"No one wants to do this, but we really have no choice," the couple was quoted by the China News Weekly magazine as saying.

The decision to divorce took place after a new regulation on rural housing was announced Aug 28 by the city government of Guiyang, which limited the size of new rural residential properties built on collective land to 240 square metres per household. The regulation covers 1,313 villages in Guiyang.

"After divorce, one family becomes two and the housing size permitted by the authorities is also doubled," Xie explained. "We just followed the torrent of divorces."

Xie is not alone.

A week after the regulation was published, rural residents rushed to marriage registration halls to split up from their loved ones to protect their "oversized" properties.

The civil affairs bureau in Yunyan district witnessed 120 couples divorcing everyday in October, six times the usual level, the Guizhou Metropolis Daily reported.

The divorcees included couples who had only been married for two or three months as well as those in their 80s and 90s.

In fact, the daily reported that couples left the halls cheerfully after they were issued with the dark green divorce certificate.

As the queues swelled, windows for other marriage services were switched to handling divorces.

"Following the torrent of divorce, there will be a surge in remarriage," Dong Liming, a deputy director of the China Land Science Society, told the Global Times. "However, some 'divorces' will become an irreversible reality."

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