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Constitutional Court to hear debate on legal grounds for divorce

11/13/2022 05:58 PM
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Unsplash photo for illustrative purpose only
Unsplash photo for illustrative purpose only

Taipei, Nov. 13 (CNA) Taiwan's Constitutional Court will hear arguments Tuesday on whether an article in the Civil Code limiting the circumstances in which couples can file for divorce violates the Constitution's protection of individual freedoms.

The case relates to Clause 2, Article 1052 of the Civil Code, which states that a husband or wife may petition for divorce upon the occurrence of an event that renders it difficult to maintain the marriage.

However, if only one party is "responsible for the event," then "only the other party may petition for divorce," according to the clause.

Chu Cheng-kun (朱政坤), a judge on the Taiwan Kaohsiung Juvenile and Family Court, applied for the constitutional interpretation based on three cases that are currently before him.

Chu has argued that the clause violates the right to divorce protected under Article 22 of the Republic of China (Taiwan) Constitution, and also contradicts previous rulings by the court, including Interpretation No. 791, which decriminalized adultery.

In addition to limiting people's freedom to end a relationship, Chu said, the law also has the practical effect of devaluing marriage by allowing it to be used to "trap" individuals in relationships that only exist in official documents.

A co-claimant in the case, surnamed Fang (方), has been unable to divorce a woman he married more than 50 years ago, even though he has since raised three children with another woman in Hong Kong.

Fang said that based on the law, he was found to be "responsible" for the difficulties in his marriage and was deemed ineligible to file for divorce.

The law will be defended in the debate by the Ministry of Justice. Previously, the ministry has argued that in cases where an event has made it difficult to maintain a marriage, both parties are often found responsible and thus have sufficient grounds for obtaining a divorce.

The ministry has also said that any potential amendments to the law should be left to the Legislative Yuan and not be decided by the courts.

Debate on the case will begin at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. The proceedings will be open to the public and broadcast live on the internet.

(By Lin Chang-shun and Matthew Mazzetta)


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