Kuan-lin Liu, Special to The China Post
Q: Why is divorce expensive? A: Because it’s worth it. Jokes aside, a divorces has the potential to be expensive if you don’t play your cards right. Shawn Fan, attorney-at-law at Wong & Co. Law Offices, says there are three main parts of a divorce: the dissolution of the marriage, property distribution and, if there are children involved, custody arrangement. According to Fan, given the frequency of divorces nowadays, the dissolution of marriage is quite straightforward in Taiwan — as long as the breakup is consensual. In the case of a consensual divorce, all else that’s really required is that at least two people “bare witnesses to the divorce,” Fan said. These witnesses do not necessarily need to be one person per party — if one party can provide two witnesses, then that would suffice as well. However, the lawyer did note that these witnesses should know the parties involved and be familiar with their marriage. Filing for divorce in this case has seemingly become as easy as registering for marriage, but Fan was quick to point out that some choose to wait until after the divorce to settle custody and property related issues. His advice is that a divorce agreement be arranged while the couple is finalizing the dissolution of their status as a married couple; that way, he said, “there won’t be problems in the future” related to property distribution or custody arrangement. The divorce agreement encompasses details such as how all property and assets will be divided as well as who gets custody of the children, should there be any. All in all, Fan’s advice is to decide on everything during the divorce proceedings so there won’t be any potential sources of conflict or disagreement in the future.
Consensual Divorce vs. Court-granted Divorce
Of course, while consensual divorces with the peaceful divvying up of property and custody do occur, they’re far from universal. Whether it is not agreeing to a divorce or to how assets should be divided, couples may need to go to court to get all their divorce-related matters sorted out. Given the commonness of divorces in Taiwan and throughout the world as of late, courts grant divorces much more easily than they used to, Fan said. According to Article 1052 of Taiwan’s Civil Code, grounds for statutory divorce include bigamy and adultery, intolerable ill-treatment and humiliation, desertion, loathsome incurable disease, incurable serious mental disease, attempted murder, uncertainty regarding whether a spouse is alive or dead for more than three years, and a prison sentence of three or more years. Section 2 of the article states that a “spouse may apply for a divorce upon the occurrence of a significant event, other than those set forth above (in Section 1), which makes maintenance of the marriage difficult.”