POSITION STATEMENT ON "DIVORCE"

Philip Yim Kwok Hung

I. MORAL GUIDELINES

A. The Christian presumption is to keep the marriage as good as possible. Divorce is basically against the will of God (Mt 19:8). As God has ordained the first couple to be one flesh, divorce is caused by the hardness of men's heart (Mt 19:8). Due to the corrupted nature of men, divorce is sometimes needed. Divorce should always be the last resort, after all the possible remedies have been tried and failed.

B. Consideration should be given to the following moral claims:

1. the well-being of both parties

2. marriage as a loving and mutual helping relationship

3. the well-being of the family and descendents

4. conditions under which the divorce is proposed

5. the belief and moral value of the person involved

C. There are different positions on divorce, but the following reasons are acceptable to start considering divorce.

1. One of the partners has sexual intercourse with others before the marriage, but the other partner doesn't know or accepts it. This marriage can only be annuled if the other partner can never forgive and accept it after he / she has known it. Since the mutual acceptance of this affair can re-affirm the covenant, the other partner should forgets (if he / she forgive) it and releases the offender from guilty feelings.

2. If one partner has commited incest intentionally, with or without the consent of his / her spouse, then the marriage must be annuled and the person must go to see psychotherapists.

3. If one partner has an extra-marital affair continually and refuses to stop this romance.

4. The behavior or mental statue of the spouse has caused severe problems to the other one. For example, the spouse has mental illness which causes him / her to use aggressive force on the applicant. Or he has always "raped" her and has sex before the children or openly. Some may always frighten or threaten his spouse and it produce enormous pressure on the spouse. This stress has affected her mental health. If this situation can be changed, the marriage may be annuled.

II. PUBLIC POLICY GUIDELINES

A. More pre-marital counseling service should be given or encouraged by the government or voluntary organizations to prevent marriage problems. These problems are in fact social problems, for the family is the most basic unit in a society.

B. More marriage enrichment support should be given or encouraged by the government or voluntary organizations.

C. LEGAL GUIDELINES:

1. A person who has married within 3 years cannot apply for divorce, only if they have special reasons. (eg. With strong medical proofs, the applicant's mental health will be in danger, if divorce is not granted.)

2. According to the laws of Hong Kong, Ch.179 Marital Laws rule 11, the only legal reason for divorce is that the marriage is unrecovable. The following 5 reasons may be accepted as conditions initiating divorce:

a. One's spouse has commited adultery and the applicant can't live with him / her.

b. The unrational behavior of the spouse has made him / her impossible to live with him / her.

c. The applicant has been abandoned by his / her spouse for at least two years.

d. The applicant has separated from his / her spouse for two years or more and both parties agree to divorce.

e. The applicant has separated from his / her spouse for five years or more

3. The purpose of the laws is to discourage divorce. Some lawyers may try to encourage it, in order to gain more money. This practice should be openly condemned. Though establishing some laws to prevent it is not a good method, the internal discipline inside the society of the lawyers is highly recommended.