CHILE: Why divorce is still so frowned upon for Chilean Americans

The divorce rate in Chile may be rising fast and furiously to the untrained eye, but all is not what it seems. Divorce is still very much frowned upon in Chile and among the Chilean diaspora here in the U.S. and around the world. That might partly be due to structural DNA. It simply isn’t in the DNA of the average Chilean to understand divorce, or to even respect someone who is divorced. The reason for that is that just as recently as¬†2005, divorce in Chile was illegal. That means that Chileans are probably better equipped to deal with devastating earthquakes than they are to know how to handle divorce.¬†
The country was the last of a triumvirate that made ending a broken marriage a legal impossibility (Malta and the Philippines still do not allow divorce.) Moreover, there is no such thing as a no fault divorce. It is necessary that parties prove their grounds such as chronic infidelity (one instance is not enough), physical abuse and abandonment. It can be a very costly proposition for most people in Chile to obtain a legal divorce.
Since 2005 the divorce rates in Chile have almost quadrupled. Though Chile still has a low divorce rate as compared to other countries in the world – developed countries in particular – still, in Latin America, the rate of divorce is getting very high and this is a concern for many people.
As recently as last year, the Chilean legislature has made some changes to the divorce laws to make divorce for foreign nationals or for those Chileans who obtained a divorce in a foreign jurisdiction, easier. Prior to the newly enacted laws, many divorced people who obtained the judgment outside Chile found themselves having to get divorced again in Chile since the Courts in Chile did not recognize the divorce obtained in a foreign jurisdiction – if the procedure in the foreign jurisdiction did not comply with Chilean law. (Chile also has a reputation for “non-compliance” with the United States Department of State in playing by the rules of the Hague Convention – that international treaty that protects abducted children (usually following a protracted divorce) and mandates their return to their “habitual” country and to the custodial parent.)
But as far as divorce, and giving full faith and credit to foreign judgments, Chile is getting better notwithstanding the fact that for Chileans there is still a stigma associated with divorce.
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