Fewer people in Turkey got married in 2019 while more filed for divorce as compared to the previous year, said the Turkish Statistical Institute recently. Because many foreign spouses are involved in Turkish divorces, these statistics raise international divorce issues.
What’s Cooking in Turkey
Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country governed by secular laws. Women have equal rights to property and are eligible for alimony after divorce. But Turkey’s conservative Justice and Development Party has pushed a strong family values agenda.
Turkey provides incentives for married couples such as a tax break, and women who work part-time can get subsidized childcare. Despite such measures — and to the government’s dismay — the rate of marriage has declined by 27 percent.
Divorce — though originally sanctioned more than 1,400 years ago by Islamic law — is still widely viewed in Muslim societies as a subversive act that breaks up the family.
Women who seek divorce can often find themselves ostracized and treated as immoral. Despite such taboos and restrictions, however, divorce rates are rising across Islamic countries, even in ultra-conservative places like Afghanistan.
Turkey, in particular, is seeing a record number of divorces, as both women and men are looking for a way out of unhappy and sometimes abusive marriages. Over the past 15 years, the divorce rate has risen from under 15 percent of marriages to nearly a quarter of them.
Domestic violence is almost always cited as a leading reason by Turkish women seeking a divorce. This is true even outside urban areas, which have also seen a slight growth in divorce cases; increasingly, women are willing to seek divorces in smaller, religious towns such as Konya, in central Anatolia, where Nebiye was raised. More of these girls and women also now have access to education and online information.
Florida International Divorce
International divorce often brings up the issue of jurisdiction. Who sues whom, how do you sue for divorce, and in what country are problems in an international divorce case? The answers are more difficult than people think as I have written before.
A British divorce might give more money because British courts can disregard prenuptial agreements, and the cost of living is high in London. However, in Florida, the outcome could be different still.
Rules about children and hiding assets is a problem in every divorce, especially in international cases. The problem of discovery of hidden wealth is even bigger in an international divorce because multiple countries, and multiple rules on discovery, can be involved.
The problems in an international divorce are more complicated because hiding assets from a spouse is much easier in some countries than in others.
Florida, at one extreme, requires complete disclosure of assets and liabilities. In fact, in Florida certain financial disclosure is mandatory. At the other extreme, are countries which require very little disclosure from people going through divorce.
Choosing possible countries to file your divorce in can be construed as “forum shopping”. The European Union introduced a reform called Brussels II, which prevents “forum shopping”, with a rule that the first court to be approached decides the divorce. But the stakes are high: ending up in the wrong legal system, or with the wrong approach, may mean not just poverty but misery.
Residency for divorce is a very important jurisdictional requirement in every case. Generally, the non-filing party need not be a resident in the state in order for the court to divorce the parties under the divisible divorce doctrine. The court’s personal jurisdiction over the non-filing spouse is necessary only if the court enters personal orders regarding the spouse.
The durational domicile or residency requirement goes to the heart of the court’s ability to divorce the parties, because the residency of a party to a divorce creates a relationship with the state to justify its exercise of power over the marriage.
Well Done Turkey
According to government statistics, the number of couples who got married was 554,389 in 2018, and 541,424 in 2019, decreasing 2.3 percent. The crude marriage rate – the number of marriages per thousand population – was 0.656 percent in 2019, down from 0.681 percent in 2018.
Age difference at first marriage between male and female was 3 years. The province having the highest mean age difference at first marriage was the northeastern province of Kars with 4.5 years.
TÜİK also gave data on the proportion of marriage with foreign partners of total marriages, saying the proportion of foreign brides rose, while it fell for grooms.
The number of foreign brides was 23,264 in 2019, 4.3 percent of total brides. Syrian women topped the foreign brides with 14.5 percent, followed by Azerbaijani brides with 11.7 percent and German brides with 10.5 percent.
On the other hand, the number of foreign grooms was 4,580 in 2019, 0.8 percent of total grooms,” it noted. When analyzed by citizenship, German grooms took first place, accounting for 34.1 percent of the overall figure. German grooms were followed by Syrian grooms with 13.1 percent and Austrian grooms with 7.8 percent.
The Hurriyet Daily News article is here.