Russia considers raising divorce fees to avoid bad marriages

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, September 24, 2013 20:20 EDT
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'Young Man And Woman Angry And Conflicting' [Shutterstock]
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Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has backed a proposal to make divorce far more expensive as a way of discouraging ill-considered matches, state media reported Tuesday.

“The motives (for the suggestion) are understandable: switch on your brain when you’re getting married, otherwise there’s going to be material penalties,” the prime minister said.

Medvedev, who served as Russia’s president between 2008 and 2012, was commenting on a proposal submitted by senators that would increase the state fees for divorce to almost 30,000 rubles (700 euros, $940), a huge rise from the current charge of 400 rubles (nine euros, $12.50).

Costly divorce cases are relatively rare in Russia, which has one of the world’s most lenient divorce procedures, with couples able to annul their marriages out of court in a single procedure at a wedding office. In cases where the divorce is contested, relatively little justification is required.

Karina Krasnova, a lawyer from the company Russian Divorce, told AFP: “In Russia the situation is very favourable for divorce. It’s much cheaper because you can do it independently, because you’d don’t need lawyers.”

Some, including Medvedev, have suggested that this easy-going regime, a legacy of the Soviet Union, promotes a cavalier attitude towards matrimony, leading to high rates of divorce.

According to a global UN survey, Russia has the 15th highest female divorce rate and the 28th highest for men.

The Soviet Union was one of the first countries in the world to allow “no-fault” divorce requiring no justification for splitting, as the Communist state sought to destroy what it considered the bourgeois construct of the family. In the 1930s, 40% of Soviet marriages ended in divorce.

Stalin later reversed this policy, but divorce remained relatively straightforward.

The discussion on reducing family break-ups coincides with a campaign by the Russian government to encourage more conservative family values in keeping with those traditionally promoted by the Russian Orthodox Church.

Monday’s proposal echoed a suggestion made earlier this year by controversial deputy Yelena Mizulina, an author of the “gay propaganda” law that made it legal to ban events that could be seen as promoting homosexuality to minors.

[Image: "Young Man And Woman Angry And Conflicting" via Shutterstock]

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