LAHORE - There were times when the word divorce was hated both by men and women, and couples breaking marriages were disliked by society.

Now the trend of separation is on the rise and statistics collected by The Nation from various courts in the metropolis show that once the divorce proceedings are started, most of the couples are not interested in resolving differences to be able to continue to stay together. Both parties prefer the procedure should be completed as early as possible so that they could start their new – and happy – lives.  

This trend is reflective of a major shift in the thinking of people. As many as 12,913 women approached various family courts in Lahore during the first ten months of the current year to seek divorce from their husbands. During the month of September alone, some 2,385 women filed suits, most of them to seek separation. The family courts disposed of 1,972 cases while 11,375 cases were already pending with them.

Of the new cases, 138 cases were contested and 1,834 went uncontested.

In other words, if the wife sought khula, the husband did not resist the idea.

Normally, elders of both sides do their best to prevent the break-up.  But even that shield appears to have become ineffective, or redundant.

Officials say that 70 percent of the family cases are related to dissolution of marriage, 10 to 20 percent are filed for maintenance charges and the remaining 10 percent are related to dowry articles. Broadly,  all three categories are called ‘family cases’.

As compared to the previous years, the trend of “untying” the knots is on the rise. Already there are 10,852 pending cases while the number of new cases filed this year has reached at 12,913. The total cases are now 23,763 and still, the data of three months October, November and December is yet to be released by the authorities concerned.

From February 2005 to January 2008 about 75, 000 divorce cases were registered. From February 2008 to May 2011, 1, 24141 divorce cases were registered. Around 2, 59, 064 separation have taken place in the provincial metropolis over the last decade.

In 2010, 40,410 separation cases were registered in the city’s family courts and 13,500 divorces have been filed in 2011.

The statement regarding the pendency, fresh institution, disposal and balance for the last month of September shows that 2,385 fresh cases were instituted, 309 were received from other courts, 138 were contested, 1834 cases were uncontested, and 1972 were disposed off while 199 were transferred to other courts.

It is not clear why the estranged spouses are not interested in saving their marriages. Legal experts say that forced marriages, lust for dowry, disloyalty, joint family system, misunderstandings, lack of trust, financial pressures and difference of social status of the husband and wife are the major reasons.

Social change, the lawyers say, is also a factor as women are now more aware of their rights. When they are denied their rights they lose interest in saving such relationship and file suits to get separation.

And what is rather astonishing is the fact that women come to courts to file their cases along with their parents, which shows that separation is acceptable even to parents.

“Working women who are financially strong are less willing to save their marriages and can quickly opt for divorce. When a woman is financially strong, she doesn’t feel the need to compromise,” said Dr. Muhammad Hayat Kalasan. He says divorce is increasing mostly among couples between ages 22 and 30.