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Countries Where Divorce Is Illegal 2024

As of now, there are only two countries in the world where divorce remains illegal: the Philippines and Vatican City. Vatican City, ruled by the Pope, strictly prohibits divorce, aligning with its religious doctrines. This tiny sovereign city-state spans merely 100 acres and is home to approximately 842 Catholic residents.

In the Philippines, where 80% of the population is Roman Catholic and 5% is Muslim, the influence of the Catholic Church is profound. The Philippine Catholic Church staunchly opposes any legislative efforts to legalize divorce, maintaining its adherence to traditional church teachings. Interestingly, adultery is a criminal offense in the Philippines, carrying a penalty of up to six years in jail for women and four years for men.

Contrasting these nations, Japan permits divorce, but with notable gender-specific stipulations. A woman must wait six months to remarry post-divorce, whereas men face no such waiting period. Additionally, if a woman is pregnant during the divorce process, she must wait 100 days before the marriage can be officially dissolved.

While only two countries outright ban divorce, several others have unique or stringent divorce laws. For example, in Chile, no-fault divorce is not recognized. Divorce is only granted under specific circumstances such as abuse, abandonment, or infidelity, and the process can take between one to three years to complete. Among the Eskimo people, a period of extended separation is a prerequisite before a couple can legally end their marriage.

Russia's divorce laws focus mainly on financial aspects. Upon divorce, the husband is only required to divide assets acquired during the marriage, excluding any inheritance. In contrast, Ireland only legalized divorce as recently as 1994, following a majority vote in the predominantly Catholic country.

In India, where divorce is legal, the rate of marital dissolution is remarkably low, with only 1% of marriages ending in divorce. The decision to grant a divorce rests with a judge and is not always guaranteed. Luxembourg, despite being one of the smallest countries globally, has a soaring divorce rate of 87%. To obtain a divorce in Luxembourg, an individual must be over 21 years old and have been married for at least two years.

  • Only two countries prohibit divorce: Vatican City, whose permanent population is almost entirely made up of unmarried clergymen, and the Philippines. Both countries can grant annulments, which are similar to divorces.
  • Although divorce is generally legal almost everywhere in the world, the types of divorces that are available and the methods of obtaining them can vary widely.

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Divorce Legal Status
Fault-Based Divorce
Mutual Consent No-Fault Divorce
Unilateral No-Fault Divorce
AngolaLegalYesYesOne year separation
AustraliaLegalNoOne year separationOne year separation
AustriaLegalYesSix month separationThree year separation
AzerbaijanLegalNoOne month waiting timeUp to three months cool-down period
BahamasLegalYesFive year separationFive year separation
BelgiumLegalNoSix month separationOne year separation
BoliviaLegalYesTwo year separationTwo year separation
BotswanaLegalNoTwo year separationTwo year separation
BulgariaLegalYesYesDetermined by court
Burkina FasoLegalYesYesThree year separation
CambodiaLegalYesYesOne year separation
CameroonLegalYesTwo year separationFive year separation
CanadaLegalYesOne year separationOne year separation
ChileLegalOne year separationThree year separation
ChinaLegalYesOne month waiting timeTwo year separation
ColombiaLegalYesYesTwo year separation
CroatiaLegalYesYesOne year separation
Czech RepublicLegalYesSix month separationDetermined by court
DenmarkLegalYesYesSix month separation
DR CongoLegalYesThree year separationThree year separation
EcuadorLegalYesYesDetermined by court
EritreaLegalYesOne year separationOne year separation
EstoniaLegalYesYesTwo year separation
EthiopiaLegalYesYesUp to three month cool-down period
FranceLegalYesYesOne year separation
GabonLegalYesThree year separationThree year separation
GermanyLegalNoOne year separationThree year separation
GhanaLegalYesTwo year separationFive year separation
GreeceLegalYesYesTwo year separation
HondurasLegalYesTwo-year separationTwo-year separation
HungaryLegalYesYesDetermined by court
IcelandLegalYesSix month separationOne year separation
IndiaLegalYesOne year separationNo
IrelandLegalYesTwo year separationTwo year separation
IsraelLegalYesYesMen only
ItalyLegalYesSix month separationOne year separation
JamaicaLegalYesOne year separationOne year separation
JapanLegalYesYesDetermined by court
KenyaLegalYesTwo year separationTwo year separation
LatviaLegalYesYesThree year separation
LithuaniaLegalYesYesOne year separation
LuxembourgLegalNoYesThree month separation
MaliLegalYesYesThree year separation
MaltaLegalNoFour year separationFour year separation
MongoliaLegalNoOne month waiting timeUp to three months cool-down period
MozambiqueLegalYesOne year separationThree year separation
NepalLegalYesYesThree year separation
NetherlandsLegalNoYesDetermined by court
New ZealandLegalNoTwo year separationTwo year separation
NigeriaLegalYesTwo year separationThree year separation
North KoreaLegalYesDetermined by courtDetermined by court
North MacedoniaLegalYesYesOne year separation
NorwayLegalYesOne year legal separation or two year de facto separationOne year legal separation or two year de facto separation
PakistanLegalYesYesMen only
PanamaLegalYesYesTwo year separation
ParaguayLegalYesTwo year separationNo
PeruLegalYesYesTwo year separation
PhilippinesIllegal (unless Muslim)Muslim marriages onlyNoNo
PolandLegalYesDetermined by courtDetermined by court
PortugalLegalNoYesOne year separation
RomaniaLegalYesYesTwo year separation
RussiaLegalNoOne month waiting timeUp to three months cool-down period
RwandaLegalYesTwo year separationTwo year separation
Saudi ArabiaLegalYesYesMen only
Sierra LeoneLegalYesNoNo
SingaporeLegalYesThree year separationFour year separation
SlovakiaLegalNoDetermined by courtDetermined by court
SloveniaLegalYesYesDetermined by court
South AfricaLegalYesOne year separationOne year separation
South KoreaLegalYesYesNo
Sri LankaLegalYesNoNo
SwedenLegalNoYes6 months reconsideration period
SwitzerlandLegalNoYesTwo year separation
TaiwanLegalYesYesDetermined by court
ThailandLegalYesYesThree year separation
Timor LesteLegalYesYesThree year separation
TurkeyLegalYesYesDetermined by court
United KingdomLegalNo26+ weeks waiting period26+ weeks waiting period
United StatesLegalYesMinimum period of separation or lack of sexual relations in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Vermont and VirginiaMinimum period of separation or lack of sexual relations in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia
UruguayLegalYesThree month separationTwo month separation
Vatican CityIllegal (and largely unnecessary)NoNoNo
VenezuelaLegalYesOne year separationFive year separation
VietnamLegalYesYesDetermined by court
ZambiaLegalYesTwo year separationFive year separation
ZimbabweLegalYesOne year separationOne year separation
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