Sri Lanka

From Vows to Divorce Papers: Understanding Sri Lanka's Marriage and Divorce Landscape -

Sri Lanka boasts the world's lowest divorce rate at just 0.15 divorces per year per 1000 adults, equivalent to 9 divorces per day. However, the country has a high number of divorce filings, 300-400 per day yet only a very few were able to navigate the intricate process of divorce successfully.

19 May, 2023 | 04:32 a.m.

Staff Writer

In the realm of love and commitment, Sri Lanka captures attention with its intriguing marriage and divorce dynamics. It holds the world's lowest divorce rate, with only 0.15 divorces per year for every 1000 adults. Remarkably, just 9 couples manage to navigate the intricate process of divorce successfully each day, solidifying Sri Lanka's status as the country with the lowest divorce rate globally. However, curiously, 300-400 couples file for divorce every day, adding a thought-provoking twist to the situation.

Unveiling the Numbers

Let's delve into the statistical backdrop that sheds light on this intriguing situation. In Sri Lanka, the Department of Census and Statistics reported approximately 171,140 marriages in the previous year (2022), translating to an average of about 470 marriages taking place each day. However, when we turn our attention to divorce statistics, a stark contrast emerges. Based on the latest available data, the divorce rate in Lanka stands at 0.15 per 1,000 adults annually. This implies that only 9 couples officially conclude their divorces on a daily basis. Surprisingly, despite this low divorce rate, the number of daily divorce filings is estimated to be in the range of 300-400. These figures suggest that the process of obtaining a divorce in Sri Lanka is far from straightforward.

Decoding the Factors at Play

Several factors contribute to the remarkably low divorce rates in Sri Lanka. A key aspect is the country's fault-based divorce laws, which require individuals to establish specific grounds for divorce. This legal framework poses significant challenges, making the process complex and discouraging for many couples. Moreover, societal and cultural norms play a role, with marriage being highly regarded and divorce often stigmatized or seen as taboo.

Recently, there has been considerable discussion surrounding potential changes to divorce laws in Sri Lanka. In 2021, a proposal was passed in Parliament to amend the country's marriage laws. The proposal encompasses several significant aspects, such as the recognition of divorces, annulments, and judicial separations that occur in foreign countries. Additionally, there are plans to amend the Kandyan Marriage and Divorce Act, which currently mandates parental consent for the marriage of minors and aims to address existing inconsistencies. However, it is important to note that these changes are progressing slowly through the legal drafting process.

Implications for Society

The repercussions stemming from Sri Lanka's low divorce rates are both intriguing and multi-faceted. On one hand, it reflects a society where commitment and perseverance within marriages are highly valued. It exemplifies the strength of enduring partnerships and the willingness of couples to weather storms. However, beneath this surface lies the potential downside. The difficulty of obtaining a divorce may leave individuals trapped in unhappy or even abusive relationships, unable to find a way out due to societal pressures or legal constraints. This can take a toll on their well-being and limit their potential for personal growth.

Charting the Way Forward

Addressing these issues requires a balanced approach that fosters open dialogue and provides adequate support systems. Simplifying the divorce process, introducing no-fault divorce options, and enhancing awareness of healthy relationship dynamics are essential steps. Empowering individuals to make informed choices about their lives while ensuring their safety and well-being is paramount.

Sri Lanka's low divorce rates offer a unique lens through which to view the dynamics of marriage and divorce. While they highlight the strength of commitment, they also underscore the challenges faced by individuals seeking divorce. By facilitating open discussions, implementing legal reforms, and promoting support services, Sri Lanka can strike a balance between valuing enduring marriages and safeguarding individual rights and well-being. Navigating this path is crucial to creating a society where relationships thrive and individuals find the freedom to lead fulfilling lives.