Divorce laws around the world

Irina Baranova

Except for the Philippines and the Vatican City, which have no divorce procedure, every country in the world permits its citizens to divorce under certain conditions. Only the annulment of marriages is permitted in these two countries.

Divorce laws in different countries:


The legalisation of divorce in Argentina was the result of a struggle between various governments and conservative organisations, most of which were affiliated with the Catholic Church.

Law 2,393 of 1888 established that the State, not the Church, would be in charge of marriage and divorce in Argentina. The legislation permitted the separation of spouses by judicial order for adultery, insults, violence, or desertion, but not the dissolution of marriage.

President Juan Domingo Perón only had Law 14,394 approved despite the Catholic Church’s objections in 1954. Marriages could be annulled and divorced people could remarry for the first time in the country. However, a military coup forced Perón out of office a year later, and the administration that succeeded him repealed the law.

Couples could legally separate without demonstrating fault from 1968 onwards, but marriages could not be dissolved.

Following a Supreme Court judgement, President Raul Alfonsin was successful in adopting the divorce statute (Law 23,515) in 1987. Gender equality between husband and wife was also included in the new law.

In August 2015, a new Civil and Commercial Code went into effect, updating family law and making divorce easier.


The Family Law Act 1975, which introduced no-fault divorce in Australia, revised Australia’s laws on divorce and other legal family problems in 1975.

Since 1975, the only basis for divorce has been the irreversible dissolution of the marriage, as demonstrated by a twelve-month separation. However, there is still a “fault” aspect in child custody and property settlement cases.


Divorce was only made lawful in Brazil in 1977, perhaps due to the influence of the Roman Catholic Church.

If there is no contested property and no minor or special-needs children, Brazilian couples can file a divorce at a notary’s office since January 2007.

The pair merely needs to present their national identification cards and marriage certificate, as well as pay a fee, to begin the procedure, which takes two to three weeks to complete.

However, as is customary in other areas of government engagement in Brazil, a skilled agent expedites the process, and the documents must be finalised by a lawyer.

The 66th amendment to Brazil’s Constitution, which was ratified in 2010, abolished the previous need of a one-year separation period before a divorce could be granted.


In 2009, a new Family Code was enacted in Bulgaria, updating family law. There are two ways to get a divorce:

  • By agreement of both parties. (Article 50) Both spouses agree to divorce, and the court accepts the divorce without investigating the reasons behind it.
  • If “the matrimony is deeply and irreversibly shattered,” at the wish of either spouse. (Article 49) The court will only rule on the ‘fault’ of the spouse(s) if one of the spouses has particularly requested it.


The Canada Divorce Act recognises divorce only when the marriage has broken down. Only one of three grounds can be used to prove a breakdown: infidelity, cruelty, or being apart for a year.

Even if there has been cruelty or adultery, most divorces are based on the spouses being separated for one year.

The one-year separation period begins when at least one spouse decides to live separately and apart from the other and takes action to do so.

Because there is no such thing as “legal separation” in Canada, a couple does not need a court order to be separated.

Even if they are living in the same house, a couple can be termed “separated.”

Either spouse can file for divorce in the province where they have lived for at least a year.

On September 13, 2004, the Ontario Court of Appeal deemed a section of the Divorce Act invalid for prohibiting same-sex weddings, which were legal in three provinces and one territory at the time of the judgement.

It demanded that same-sex marriages be written into the statute, allowing a lesbian couple to divorce.


While the federal law is uniform, each province has its own act defining the standards for property and debt distribution, as well as its own method for getting an order through the courts.

The Family Law Act governs the division of property and debt between divorcing spouses in British Columbia.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia’s regulations distinguish between contentious divorces (also known as desk order divorces) and uncontested divorces (also known as desk order divorces) through expedited procedures designed for spouses who agree on the conditions of divorce orders and other relief.

To get a divorce decree, the court must be convinced that the following conditions have been met:

  • The marriage is legally recognised.
  • At least one of the parties was ordinarily resident in British Columbia for at least one year prior to the start of the action, and the allegation of marriage breakdown was substantiated.
  • If there are children, child support is paid in a timely manner.


The Czech Civil Code (No. 89/2012 Coll.) distinguishes between peaceful and contentious divorces.

A court judgement that approves a divorce agreement between the parties constitutes an amicable divorce.

There are a few prerequisites: the marriage must have lasted at least a year, and the pair must have been separated for at least six months.

The parties must also agree on post-divorce child custody, property divide, housing, and potentially alimony.

When the parties are unable to reach an agreement, a difficult divorce occurs. If there are minor children, the court may only divorce the couple after agreeing on the children’s future care.


The French Civil Code (updated on January 1, 2005) allows for divorce for four reasons: mutual consent (which accounts for over 60% of all divorces), acceptance, two-year separation, and one partner’s “fault” (accounting for most of the other 40 percent).

During the French Revolution, on September 20, 1792, the first French divorce legislation was approved.

After the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy, it was updated in 1793 and 1794 and eventually integrated into the civil code before being repealed on 8 May 1816, primarily at the request of the Catholic Church.

On July 27, 1884, divorce became legal again.


In 1982 and 1983, when civil marriage was introduced and the family law was changed to ensure gender equality, Greece’s marriage and divorce laws underwent significant alterations.

In Greece, divorce can be granted for a variety of reasons:

  • Divorce that is mutually agreed upon (both spouses must agree)
  • Divorce on the grounds that the marriage has been severely harmed due to factors attributable to either the defendant or both spouses, making the petitioner’s continued presence in the marriage unpleasant.
  • Divorce is based on a two-year separation (Article 14 of Law 3719/2008 decreased the separation term from four to two years).


On October 1, 1981, the Family Proceedings Act of 1980 took effect, transferring authority for divorce proceedings from the High Court to the newly constituted Family Court.

From that point forward, the term “divorce” was replaced with “dissolution of marriage or civil union.”

A dissolution application is filed with the Family Court solely on the grounds that the marriage or civil union has irreconcilably broken down. The application might be lodged by both parties or by one of them alone.


In Sweden, a couple can either file for divorce together or one side can file alone for divorce.

There is a 6- to 12-month waiting period if they have children under the age of 16 living at home or if one party does not want to divorce.

During this time, they remain married, and the request must be confirmed after the divorce has been finalised.


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