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January 13, 2010

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Some couples divorce and wed again - but for money, not love

THE number of people who remarried their spouses in Shanghai last year increased by about 20 percent over 2008.

Some were driven by purely pecuniary interests, civil affairs officials said yesterday.

More than 6,040 couples applied to remarry after divorce last year, most of them aged between 50 and 60, according to the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.

"Some of them just divorced to take advantage of the country's relocation policies," said Zhou Jixiang, director of the bureau's marriage-management division.

The government allows relocation compensation for each family, thus divorced couples receive a double dip as they become two families.

So the game plan is a quick divorce, pocket compensation payments and then remarry.

Zhou said that in Baoshan District, a couple divorced and remarried six times last year, a 2009 record.

There were of course many genuine instances.

For example, an elderly and bedridden man in Changning District remarried his first wife because, given time to reflect, he believed she was his true love.

The bureau said it was hard for officials to determine whether couples were genuine as they often appeared sincere, citing reasons like "lacking in mutual affection."

Last year, it accepted 38,722 divorce cases. Most of them said their relationships had broken down irretrievably.

The multicultural marriage rate fell in the city last year.

About 2,490 local people married foreigners last year, down about 5 percent from 2008. The divorce rate in this sector rose by about 2 percent.

Zhou said that once many people, especially women, dreamed of going abroad for a better life by marrying a foreigner. As the city developed, this trend was waning.

"We believe that most 'cross-border' marriages are based on true love," he said.

About 147,710 couples registered for marriage last year - multicultural examples excluded - up about 6 percent from 2008.

Officials said a marriage peak on September 9 boosted numbers. Many couples believed the three nines in the date would bless them to stay with each for life since in Chinese, "nine" is pronounced the same as "for a long time."

There is bad news for couples this year hoping for two auspicious wedding dates.

Marriage registries will not be open on February 14, Valentine's Day and also Chinese New Year's Day, nor on Sunday, October 10.

As the number 10 has the meaning of "full and complete," many couples are seeking this day because of the three 10s in the date.


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