On eve of Chilean wedding, divorce inches closer

Do you ever run into one of those interesting coincidences? This weekend I'm heading to Chile for a wedding of a good friend. I open up the New York Times yesterday to find an article detailing the current state of divorce law in Chile and suggesting that by next year, it may be a possibility in the country.

For those who don't know Chile, like much of South America, Catholicism has been the dominant religion for well over a hundred years and played a large part in the creation of laws. To wit, the matrimonial laws (last updated in 1880) do not have any provisions for what is traditionally thought of as divorce. There are certainly some provisions for annulment, but mainly on technical grounds. There is no provision for two people just deciding that it is better that they be apart.

It appears that there are some interesting (and perhaps unexpected--at least by the Church) effects of this hard-line stance against divorce. As expected, people have found ways to guarantee they can receive an annulment, such as having witnesses intentionally misspell names on the marriage documentation. Further, there has been a marked decrease in the marriage rate (a drop of about 40%) and nearly 50% of all children are born out of wedlock.

Makes you wonder about unintended consequences.