Divorce Intervention Program Seems to Be Working, SWO Says

Divorce Intervention Program Seems to Be Working, SWO SaysDivorce Intervention Program Seems to Be Working, SWO Says

During the last Iranian year that ended in March, over 7,000 couples were referred to pre-divorce counseling centers for professional intervention, in a move by the authorities to check the high rate of divorce in the country.

In 10% of the cases, or 770 couples, the decision to breakup saw a change after completion of the counseling sessions, said Ahmad Delbari, director general of the Tehran Province office of the State Welfare Organization (SWO), ISNA reported.

The ‘Divorce Intervention Program’ was launched last year in 16 centers in Tehran by the SWO with the aim of discouraging couples from parting ways; the number of centers increased to 25 by the end of the year.

On Tuesday (May 17), 75 more pre-divorce centers were opened in the province, IRNA reported, indicating the seriousness of the problem.  

Statistics published by the National Organization for Civil Registration affiliated to the Interior Ministry show that the divorce rate has continually increased from the years 2006 to 2013. The number of divorces was 94,039 in 2006, a 65% increase in 2013 by reaching 155,369.

The average divorce rate in the country peaked at 21% in 2014. According to official statistics, there were more than 30,000 divorces in Tehran in that year, 90% by what has come to be known as ‘mutual consent’.

“Annually, more than 30,000 divorces are registered in Tehran alone. That is why we chose the province as a starting point,” Delbari said. As the program has shown success, it will be extended nationwide.

Stressing the necessity of counseling, he said surveys in the country have shown that many divorced couples later regret their decisions, believing that “one or the other spouse could or should have worked much harder to save the marriage.”

Experienced counselors can guide couples intending to divorce in getting the relationship back on track by identifying the real problems and offering practical and workable solutions.

“Under the intervention program, applicants for divorce can be sent to the centers by courts or they can visit voluntarily.”

The number of registered divorce cases was 30,459, 17,165, 9,938, 7,810, 7,726, 6,961, 6,844 and 1,482, in Tehran, Khorasan Razavi, Isfahan, East Azarbaijan, Fars, Gilan, Alborz and Yazd, respectively.  

  Experts Advise

In the initial intervention sessions, therapists including psychologists and social workers see the spouses individually and in the later sessions the couples receive counseling services together, he said.

Experts study the ways couples interact with each other and guide them in specific skills essential to a healthy marriage. They are also allowed to refer couples to psychiatrists or legal counselors, if necessary, Delbari added.  

Referring to the 7,000 couples, he said “11% of them were just-married, 47% were married for 5 years or less; 20% for 5 to 10 years and 22% were married for over 10 years.”

“The major reasons behind their requests for separation were addiction, spouse’s infidelity, lack of responsibility, and husband’s inadequate income.

Emphasizing the need for premarital counseling, the official said it can help couples ensure that they have a strong and healthy relationship, giving them a better chance for a stable and satisfying marriage.

“Unfortunately, at present, little attention has been paid to premarital counseling.”

  Making it Mandatory

Abasali Allahyari, head of the Psychology and Counseling Organization of Iran had stated recently that the organization is making every effort to make pre-marital counseling mandatory and soon “we will propose the bill to the parliament for approval.

The number of marriages ranged between 870,000 and 890,000 from 2007 to 2011 and decreased to 820,000 in 2012 and 770,000 in 2013. The marriage rate declined in the past 3½ years — down 1.9% in 2012, 5.1% in 2013, 6.7% in 2014 and 7.2% in the first few months of 2015.

About 25% of married couples in Iran go in for divorce, which means from every four marriages one is broken.

The growing trend of uncontested divorce in recent years has also raised concerns among officials across the board. The Judiciary’s Social Work and Counseling Office in a directive in July 2015 said that divorce by mutual consent, without counseling, would “no more be allowed and is invalid.”

In order to improve the quality of counseling services, all counselors are obliged to undergo specialized training programs, the directive said.  The objective of counseling is to bring down the rate of divorce, in particular by mutual consent. In fact the aim of counseling is to consolidate the institution of the family and make efforts at reconciliation, by helping prevent an increase in family conflicts and separation.

Iran has more than 11 million singles in the marriage age. The average age of marriage has gone up to 28.8 for men and 23.8 for women.