A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Divorce

A divorce or annulment is called for only when the Bahá’í partner has denied his faith. “When reinstatement calls for a divorce or annulment of an improperly contracted marriage, no year of waiting is necessary because Bahá’í divorce is not involved. The purpose of the year of waiting is to attempt the saving of a marital relationship which was originally accepted as valid in the eyes of Bahá’ís, and is now in jeopardy. A delayed Bahá’í marriage, conducted for reason of fulfillment of Bahá’í Law and in the full spirit of the Bahá’í ceremony should not be viewed as a mockery but as the confirmation of a union contracted outside Bahá’í Law.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 399)


A family is a nation in miniature. Simply enlarge the circle of the household, and you have the nation. Enlarge the circle of nations, and you have all humanity. The conditions surrounding the family surround the nation. The happenings in the family are the happenings in the life of the nation. Would it add to the progress and advancement of a family if dissensions should arise among its members, all fighting, pillaging each other, jealous and revengeful of injury, seeking selfish advantage? Nay, this would be the cause of the effacement of progress and advancement. So it is in the great family of nations, for nations are but an aggregate of families. Therefore, as strife and dissension destroy a family and prevent its progress, so nations are destroyed and advancement hindered.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 156)


Bahá’u’lláh has laid great emphasis on the sanctity of marriage, and the believers should exert their utmost to create harmony in their homes and a situation which at least is not bad for their children. But if, after prayer and self-sacrificing effort, this proves quite impossible, then they may resort to divorce.
(Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 448)


Bahá’ís (whether one party or both are believers) should follow the Bahá’í law of divorce, i.e. one year of waiting, and neglect this divinely given Law. Whether they were Bahá’ís when married or not has nothing to do with it.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 393-394)


Concerning... divorce: He has no right to demand from his wife a refund of the marriage expenses he incurred. In the Aqdas it is quite clear that the husband must not only give the dowry but must support his wife until the time when the divorce is completed. In view of this she is not required to repay expenses of the marriage, etc.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 399-400)


Concerning the definition of the term “aversion” in relation to Bahá’í divorce law, the Universal House of Justice points out that there are no specific “grounds” for Bahá’í divorce such as there are in some codes of civil law. Bahá’í law permits divorce but, as both Bahá’u’lláh and ‘Abdu’l-Bahá have made very clear, divorce is abhorred. Thus, from the point of view of the individual believer he should do all he can to refrain from divorce. Bahá’ís should be profoundly aware of the sanctity of marriage and should strive to make their marriages an eternal bond of unity and harmony. This requires effort and sacrifice and wisdom and self-abnegation. A Bahá’í should consider the possibility of divorce only if the situation is intolerable and he or she has a strong aversion to being married to the other partner. This is a standard held up to the individual. It is not a law, but an exhortation. It is a goal to which we should strive. From the point of view of the Spiritual Assembly, however, the matter is somewhat different. The Spiritual Assembly should always be concerned that the believers in its community are being deepened in their understanding of the Bahá’í concept of marriage, especially the young people, so that the very thought of divorce will be abhorrent to them.... It can be seen, therefore, that “aversion” is not a specific legal term that needs to be defined. Indeed a number of other terms are used in describing the situation that can lead to divorce in Bahá’í law, such as “antipathy", “resentment", “estrangement", “impossibility of establishing harmony” and “irreconcilability”.
(Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 456-457)


Divorce is strongly condemned in the Bahá’í Teachings. If, however, antipathy or resentment develop between the marriage partners, divorce is permissible after the lapse of one full year. During this year of patience, the husband is obliged to provide for the financial support of his wife and children, and the couple is urged to strive to reconcile their differences. Shoghi Effendi affirms that both the husband and wife “have equal right to ask for divorce” whenever either partner “feels it absolutely essential to do so”.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 211).


Divorce should be avoided most strictly by the believers, and only under rare and urgent circumstances be resorted to. Modern society is criminally lax as to the sacred nature of marriage, and the believers must combat this trend assiduously.
(Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 450)


For the Bahá’í Teachings do not only preclude the possibility of bigamy, but also, while permitting divorce, consider it a reprehensible act, which should be resorted to only in exceptional circumstances, and when grave issues are involved, transcending such considerations as physical attraction or sexual compatibility and harmony. The institution of marriage, as established by Bahá’u’lláh, while giving due importance to the physical aspect of marital union, considers it as subordinate to the moral and spiritual purposes and functions with which it has been invested by an all-wise and loving Providence. Only when these different values are given each their due importance, and only on the basis of the subordination of the physical to the moral, and the carnal to the spiritual, can such excesses and laxity in marital relations as our decadent age is so sadly witnessing be avoided, and family life be restored to its original purity, and fulfil the true function for which it has been instituted by God. The Guardian will most fervently pray that, inspired and guided by such a divine standard, and strengthened by Bahá’u’lláh’s unfailing assistance and confirmations, you may be able to satisfactorily adjust your relations with the persons concerned, and thus reach the one right solution to this assuredly challenging problem of your life.
(Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 446)


For the Bahá’í Teachings do not only preclude the possibility of bigamy, but also, while permitting divorce, consider it a reprehensible act, which should be resorted to only in exceptional circumstances, and when grave issues are involved, transcending such...considerations as physical attraction or sexual compatibility and harmony. the Institution of marriage, as established by Bahá’u’lláh, while giving due importance to the physical aspect of marital union considers it as subordinate to the moral and spiritual purposes and functions with which it has been invested by an All-Wise and loving Providence, and only when these different values are given each their due importance, and only on the basis of the subordination of the physical to the moral, and the carnal to the spiritual can such excesses and laxity in marital relations as our decadent age is so sadly witnessing be avoided, and family life be restored to its original purity, and fulfil the true function for which it has been instituted by God.
(From letter written on behalf of the Guardian to a believer who, having married his first wife out of compassion, now wished to be permitted to marry a woman with whom he had fallen in love, saying that his wife was agreeable to his taking this second wife, May 8, 1939: Extracts from the Bahá’í Teachings Discouraging Divorce, pp. 4-5)


Formerly in Persian divorce was very easily obtained. Among the people of the past Dispensation a trifling matter would cause divorce. However, as the light of the Kingdom shone forth souls were quickened by the spirit of Bahá’u’lláh, then they totally eschewed divorce. In Persia now divorce does not take place among the friends, unless a compelling reason existeth with maketh harmony impossible. Under such rare circumstances some cases of divorce take place. Now the friends in America must live and conduct themselves in this way. They must strictly refrain from divorce unless something ariseth which compelleth them to separate because of their aversion for each other, in that case with the knowledge of the Spiritual Assembly they may decide to separate. They must then be patient and wait one complete year. If during this year harmony is not re- established between them, then their divorce may be realized. It should not happen that upon the occurrence of a slight friction of displeasure between husband and wife, the husband would think of union with some other woman or, God forbid, the wife also think of another husband. This is contrary to the standard of heavenly value and true chastity. The friends of God must so live and conduct themselves, and evince such excellence of character and conduct, as to make others astonished. The love between husband and wife should not be purely physical, nay rather it must be spiritual and heavenly. These two souls should be considered as one soul. How difficult it would be to divide a single soul! Nay, great would be the difficulty!
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 391)


From the point of view of the Spiritual Assembly, however, the matter is somewhat different. The Spiritual Assembly should always be concerned that the believers in its community are being deepened in their understanding of the Bahá’í concept of marriage, especially the young people, so that the very thought of divorce will be abhorrent to them. When an application for divorce is made to a Spiritual Assembly its first thought and action should be to reconcile the couple and to ensure that they know the Bahá’í teachings on the matter. God willing, the Assembly will be successful and no year of waiting need be started. However, if the Assembly finds that it is unable to persuade the party concerned to withdraw the application for divorce, it must conclude that, from its point of view, there appears to be an irreconcilable antipathy, and it has no alternative to setting the date for the beginning of the year of waiting. During the year the couple have the responsibility of attempting to reconcile their difference, and the Assembly has the duty to help them and encourage them. But if the year of waiting comes to an end without reconciliation the Bahá’í divorce must be granted as at the date of the granting of the civil divorce if this has not already taken place.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 390-391)


Given the value of marriage as a divine institution, Bahá’ís should make great efforts to create, preserve and strengthen healthy marriages, drawing upon the power of prayer and spiritual transformation, learning to consult, seeking guidance in the Bahá’í Writings, exploring creative solutions to problems, and requesting assistance from Bahá’í institutions and/or professional counselors as necessary. Knowing the spiritual value of the effort to overcome difficulties in close personal relationships, Bahá’ís should not readily give up on a marriage or family relationship. At the same time, respect for the institution of marriage does not justify ignoring abuse, failing to assist someone who is suffering abuse, or failing to call to account one who is perpetrating abuse.
(National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies on Domestic Violence, p. 121)


He feels that you should by all means make every effort to hold your marriage together, especially for the sake of the children, who, like all children of divorced parents, cannot but suffer from conflicting loyalties, for they are deprived of the blessing of a father and a mother in one home, to look after their interests and love them jointly. “Now that you realize that your husband is ill, you should be able to reconcile yourself to the difficulties you have faced with him emotionally, and not take an unforgiving attitude, however much you may suffer. “We know that Bahá’u’lláh has very strongly frowned upon divorce; and it is really incumbent upon the Bahá’ís to make almost a superhuman effort not to allow a Bahá’í marriage to be dissolved.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 227)


He has been very sorry to hear that your marriage seems to have failed utterly. I need not tell you as a Bahá’í that every effort should be made by any Bahá’í to salvage their marriage for the sake of God, rather than for their own sake. In the case of pioneers, it is even more important, because they are before the public eye. However, in such matters it is neither befitting nor right that the Guardian should bring pressure on individuals. He can only appeal to you and... to try again; but if you cannot rise to this test, that is naturally a personal matter.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 393)


He was very sorry to hear that you and your husband are still so unhappy together. It is always a source of sorrow in life when married people cannot get on well together, but the Guardian feels that you and your husband, in contemplating divorce, should think of the future of your children and how this major step on your part will influence their lives and happiness. If you feel the need of advice and consultation he suggests you consult your Local Assembly; your fellow Bahá’ís will surely do all they can to counsel and help you, protect your interests and those of the Cause.
(Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 448)


He was very sorry to hear that you and your husband are still so unhappy together. It is always a source of sorrow in life when married people cannot get on well together, but the Guardian feels that you and your husband, in contemplating divorce, should think of the future of your children and how this major step on your part will influence their lives and happiness. “If you feel the need of advice and consultation he suggests you consult your Local Assembly; your fellow Bahá’ís will surely do all they can to counsel and help you, protect your interests and those of the Cause.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 392)


He was very sorry to hear that you are contemplating separation from your husband. As you no doubt know, Bahá’u’lláh considers the marriage bond very sacred; and only under very exceptional and unbearable circumstances is divorce advisable for Bahá’ís. The Guardian does not tell you that you must not divorce your husband; but he does urge you to consider prayerfully, not only because you are a believer and anxious to obey the Laws of God, but also for the sake of the happiness of your children, whether it is not possible for you to rise above the limitations you have felt in your marriage hitherto, and make a go of it together. We often feel that our happiness lies in a certain direction; and yet, if we have to pay too heavy a price for it in the end we may discover that we have not really purchased either freedom or happiness, but must some new situation of frustration and disillusion.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 392-393)


However, it is necessary that Bahá’ís who intend to divorce be aware that they must consult with their Local or National Assembly that basically a year of waiting must ensue before divorce can be effected, and that the Assembly has certain responsibilities toward the couple concerned about which they will be informed through consultation with the Assembly.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 394)


If a Bahá’í woman suffers abuse or is subjected to rape by her husband, she has the right to turn to the Spiritual Assembly for assistance and counsel, or to seek legal protection. Such abuse would gravely jeopardize the continuation of the marriage, and could well lead to a condition of irreconcilable antipathy.
(The Universal House of Justice, 1992, Violence and Sexual Abuse of Women and Children)


If at any time during the waiting period affection should recur, the marriage tie is valid. If this reconciliation is followed by estrangement and divorce is again desired, a new year of waiting will have to be commenced.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 152).


In short, the foundation of the Kingdom of God is based upon harmony and love, oneness, relationship and union, not upon differences, especially between husband and wife. If one of these two become the cause of divorce, that one will unquestionably fall into great difficulties, will become the victim of formidable calamities and experience deep remorse.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Lights of Guidance, p. 391-392)


In the opening paragraphs of your letter you speak of your Committee adjusting upon divorce settlements, and the House of Justice feels that the use of the word ‘adjudicate’ may lie at the root of some of the problems that the committee is facing. In a country like the United Kingdom, where divorce is subject to the civil law, the function of the Assembly (or committee) in dealing with a divorce case is not primarily a matter of adjudication. Its first duty is to try to reconcile the couple. If it finds that it is unable to do this, it then sets the beginning of the year of waiting and continues, as circumstances permit and wisdom dictates, throughout the running of the year, its attempts at reconciliation. One of the duties of the committee is to see that the requirements of Bahá’í Law governing the year of waiting are not violated—that is to say, that the two parties live apart and that proper provisions are made for the financial support of the wife and children. As you will see from the enclosures, this is a matter that needs to be considered for case on its own merits. If the matter can be amicably arranged between the parties, well and good. If not, the basic principle of Bahá’í Law is that the husband is responsible for the support of his wife and children so long as they are married; that is until the granting of the divorce. In a particular case, however, it may have been the wife who was the bread-winner of the family or both the husband and wife may have been earning income. The Assembly should not ignore such specific situations and change them merely because a year of waiting is running. The application of these principles should not be in the form of an adjudication which the Assembly will require the couple to accept, but as a basis for an arrangement which the coupe will amicably agree to and present to the Court for endorsement. If the Assembly is unable to get the couple to agree, it should leave the matter to the civil court.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 396)


Intercourse during this period of waiting is forbidden, and whoever breaks this law must repent and pay the House of Justice 19 mithqals of gold.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 152).


Irreconcilable antipathy arising between the parties to a marriage is not merely a lack of love for one’s spouse but an antipathy which cannot be resolved. It is for the Spiritual Assembly to decide whether this condition exists before it sets the date for the beginning of the year of waiting, and this it may do on the application of one of the parties. It is not affected by the other party’s not wishing to apply for a divorce.
(Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 453)


It is always the hope that, during the year of patience, affection between the couple will recur and that divorce will not be necessary. Therefore, although normal social relationships between each of the partners and member of both sexes are permissible, it is quite contrary to the spirit of the teachings for either party to be courting a new partner during the year of waiting. This should be made clear to the couple if necessary and they should be exhorted to conduct themselves as Bahá’ís. However, this is not an area in which the Assembly should resort to sanctions if either or both of the pair disregard this principle. Naturally, if one of the parties conducts himself or herself in a way that is blatantly or flagrantly immoral the matter should be handled as any other similar case would be.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 396-397)


It is clear from Bahá’í teachings that no husband should batter his wife. As to divorce, while it is permitted by Bahá’u’lláh, it is heavily discouraged and the greatest efforts must be made to avoid it. In Bahá’í society the only grounds for divorce are an irreconcilable antipathy between the parties.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 402)


It is not possible to shorten the period of waiting as this is a provision of the Kitáb-i- Aqdas. However, a National Spiritual Assembly may, if circumstances justify it, back date the beginning of the year provided that this is not earlier than the date the parties last separated with the intention of obtaining a divorce. It is not clear in the case you have cited whether the parties lived together during the period between June … and the date you set for the beginning of the year of waiting in January … If the parties were separated during this period and living in separate residences, then you could consider back dating the beginning of the year of waiting.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 397)


It is not within the discretion of the parties to a Bahá’í divorce to extend the year of waiting and ask for the Bahá’í divorce ‘at whatever time they feel so inclined.’ If there has been no reconciliation of the parties in the meantime, the Bahá’í divorce becomes final at the end of the year of waiting unless the granting of the civil divorce is delayed beyond that time. The parties may, however, withdraw the application for Bahá’í divorce at any time during the year of waiting. Should they later desire to apply for divorce, a new year of waiting would have to be commenced.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 398-399)


It is not within the spirit of Bahá’í Law for one to become involved in the announcement of new marriage plans while he or she is still legally married to another. There is no objection to urging the friends not to go so far as to seek consent of parents before the divorce becomes final in all respects, but no sanctions should be applied to enforce such exhortation.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 399)


It is, of course, important for the friends to realize that although divorce is permitted in Bahá’í Law, it is nevertheless condemned, and great efforts should be made to avoid it. It is always the hope that, during the year of patience, affection between the couple will recur and that divorce will not be necessary. Therefore, although normal social relationship between each of the partners and members of both sexes is permissible, it is quite contrary to the spirit of the teachings for either party to be courting a new partner during the year of waiting. This should be made clear to the couple and they should be exhorted to conduct themselves as Bahá’ís. However, this is not an area in which the Assembly should resort to sanctions if either or both of the pair disregard this principle. Naturally, if one of the parties conducts himself or herself in a way that is blatantly or flagrantly immoral the matter should be handled as any other similar case would be, but from your cables we understand that this is not the situation in the case at present before you.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 394-395)


It is preferable that the couple amicably agree on the custody of the children and submit their agreement to the Assembly for endorsement. Normally in the case of very young children custody is given to the mother unless there are compelling reasons which make this inadvisable. Regardless of which parent is given custody, the children should be so educated that they may develop a proper Bahá’í attitude towards, and due regard for, both parents. Fair and practical arrangements should be made to protect the rights of the parent not having custody to associate with the children and spend time with them. Usually custody arrangements continue until the child comes of age unless, of course, new circumstances transpire during this period which call for a review of the arrangements.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 401)


Obviously, seeking the assistance of one’s Spiritual Assembly is a part of the Bahá’í divorce procedure, and the parties concerned should consult with the Assembly about their problems. It is within the discretion of the parties, or either of them, to also avail themselves of professional marriage counsellors.
(Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 453)


One of the great obstacles to progress is the tendency of Bahá’ís to be sucked into the general attitudes and disputes that surround them, to be influenced, for example, as you yourself pointed out, by the prevailing attitude to marriage so that the divorce rate becomes a problem within the Bahá’í community itself which should be an example to the rest of society in such matters.
(The Universal House of Justice, Messages 1963 to 1986, p. 516-517)


Question: Concerning divorce, which must be preceded by a year of patience: if only one of the parties is inclined toward conciliation, what is to be done?
Answer: According to the commandment revealed in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, both parties must be content; unless both are willing, reunion cannot take place.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 118).


Question: If, upon completion of the year of patience, the husband refuseth to allow divorce, what course should be adopted by the wife?
Answer: When the period is ended divorce is effected. However, it is necessary that there be witnesses to the beginning and end of this period, so that they can be called upon to give testimony should the need arise.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 128).


Regarding divorce the Guardian stated that it is discouraged, deprecated and against the good pleasure of God. The Assembly must circulate among the friends whatever has been revealed from the Pen of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in this connection so that all may be fully reminded. Divorce is conditional upon the approval and permission of the Spiritual Assembly. The members of the Assembly must in such matters independently and carefully study and investigate each case. If there should be valid grounds for divorce and it is found that reconciliation it utterly impossible, that antipathy is intense and its removal is not possible, then the Assembly may approve the divorce.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 391)


Regarding the case of the married couple who have separated and wish to set the date of the beginning of the year of waiting retroactively, we are directed to say that the conclusions expressed in the fourth paragraph of your letter are correct; that is, that the Local Assembly should determine, before setting the date of the beginning of the year of waiting, that irreconcilable antipathy exists. While a Local or National Assembly may request the advice of the Continental Board of Counsellors and their Board members, and should be grateful for their assistance, it is the Assembly’s responsibility to conduct its own investigation and come to a decision. Assemblies are, of course, discouraged from probing unnecessarily into details of personal lives and the examination of a divorce problem should not go beyond what is necessary to ascertain whether or not such antipathy does, indeed, exist. When a Spiritual Assembly receives an application for Bahá’í divorce its first duty is to try to reconcile the couple. If this is not possible, and the couple separates, further efforts at reconciliation should be made during the ensuing year. While there are circumstances in which the date of waiting may be fixed retroactively, the situation you describe of the husband leaving for the purpose of finding work cannot be accepted as one of them.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 394)


Shoghi Effendi wishes me to add this note in connection with your marriage; he does not feel that any believer, under any circumstances whatsoever, can ever use the Cause or service to it as a reason for abandoning their marriage; divorce, as we know, is very strongly condemned by Bahá’u’lláh, and only grounds of extreme gravity justify it.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 392)


Should a woman be divorced in consequence of a proven act of infidelity, she shall receive no maintenance during her period of waiting. Thus hath the day-star of Our commandment shone forth resplendent from the firmament of justice.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 44).


Should resentment or antipathy arise between husband and wife, he is not to divorce her but to bide in patience throughout the course of one whole year, that perchance the fragrance of affection may be renewed between them. If, upon the completion of this period, their love hath not returned, it is permissible for divorce to take place.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 43).


The Guardian says that if within a country divorce, because of affiliation of church and State in this matter, is considered illegal, the Bahá’ís must be bound by this law. At the present time they must under no circumstances raise such matters with any Government in question. This means that it is not right for a believer to get a divorce outside of, say Colombia, and then remarry outside and return there, where his divorce would be illegal.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 393)


The Universal House of Justice has noted with increasing concern that the undisciplined attitude of present-day society towards divorce is reflected in some parts of the Bahá’í World Community. Our Teachings on this subject are clear and in direct contrast to the loose and casual attitude of the ‘permissive society’ and it is vital that the Bahá’í Community practise these Teachings.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 390)


The husband is obligated to support the wife and children until the granting of the Bahá’í divorce. This normally takes place at the end of the year of waiting unless it has to be postponed pending the granting of a civil divorce. Following the granting of the divorce the father continues to be under the obligation of providing the necessary funds for the support of the children, but he has no continuing obligation to support his former wife.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 401)


The presence of children, as a factor in divorce, cannot be ignored, for surely it places an even greater weight of moral responsibility on the man and wife in considering such a step. Divorce under such circumstances no longer just concerns them and their desires and feelings but also concerns the children’s entire future and their own attitude towards marriage.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 392)


The procedure, briefly, is that when a Spiritual Assembly receives an application for divorce its first duty is to try to reconcile the couple. When it determines that this is not possible, it should then set the date of the beginning of the year of waiting. That could be the date on which the Assembly reaches the decision, unless the couple are still living together, in which case it must be postponed until they separate. If the couple had already separated some time before, the Assembly may back-date the beginning of the year; however, the earliest date on which it can be set is the date on which the couple last separated with the intention of obtaining a divorce.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 395)


The setting of the date of the beginning of the year of patience is not automatic. The Assembly must first determine whether grounds for a Bahá’í divorce exist and should make every effort to reconcile the parties. If the aversion existing between the parties is found to be irreconcilable then the Assembly may set the date for the beginning of the year of waiting.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 395)


The texts, however, point out that divorce is strongly condemned, should be viewed as “a last resort” when “rare and urgent circumstances” exist, and that the partner who is the “cause of divorce” will “unquestionably” become the “victim of formidable calamities”.
(Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 456-457)


There are situations in which the behavior of some family member(s) jeopardizes the physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual health and well-being of others to such an extent, and there is so little indication that the abusive behavior will abate, that there may be no other recourse than for the abused party or parties to withdraw from the destructive relationship, temporarily or indefinitely. Although individuals should strive to be forgiving and forbearing for whatever injuries were inflicted in the past, no one is obliged to submit to further abuse.
(National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States, Guidelines for Spiritual Assemblies on Domestic Violence, p. 121)


There have been many instances in which a couple, through a consecrated and determined effort, aided by the power of prayer and the advice of experts, succeeded in overcoming seemingly insuperable obstacles to their reconciliation and in reconstructing a strong foundation for their marriage. There are also innumerable examples of individuals who have been able to effect drastic and enduring changes in their behaviour, through drawing on the spiritual powers available by the bounty of God.
(Universal House of Justice to an individual, 6 August 1989)


There is no doubt about it that the believers in America, probably unconsciously influenced by the extremely lax morals prevalent and the flippant attitude towards divorce which seems to be increasingly prevailing, do not take divorce seriously enough and do not seem to grasp the fact that although Bahá’u’lláh has permitted it, He has only permitted it as a last resort and strongly condemns it.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 392)


There is no doubt about it that the believers in America, probably unconsciously influenced by the extremely lax morals prevalent and the flippant attitude towards divorce which seems to be increasingly prevailing, do not take divorce seriously enough and do not seem to grasp the fact that although Bahá’u’lláh has permitted it, He has only permitted it as a last resort and strongly condemns it. The presence of children, as a factor in divorce, cannot be ignored, for surely it places an even greater weight of moral responsibility on the man and wife in considering such a step. Divorce under such circumstances no longer just concerns them and their desires and feelings but also concerns the children’s entire future and their own attitude towards marriage. As to whether you and Mr.... should now divorce: this is a matter which so intimately concerns you both, your children, and your future that he does not feel he can do more than point out to you what he has stated above. The decision must rest with you both.
(Shoghi Effendi, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 449)


Thus the date of the beginning of the year of patience normally commences when one of the parties notifies the Assembly that they have separated with the intention of divorce. However, the Assembly may establish the beginning of the year of patience on a prior date provided it is satisfied such prior date reflects the actual date of separation and there is good reason for so doing.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 395)


Truly, the Lord loveth union and harmony and abhorreth separation and divorce.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 44).


We have reviewed your letter … requesting instructions as to how to handle Bahá’í divorce when one of the parties is mentally ill. Far from being required to live together during the year of patience, the parties are in fact prohibited from doing so. The Bahá’í divorce must be handled either by the Local Assembly or by the National Assembly, but either may handle it at the discretion of your Assembly.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 394)


Wherever there is a Bahá’í family, those concerned should by all means do all they can to preserve it, because divorce is strongly condemned in the Teachings whereas harmony, unity and love are help up as the highest ideals in human relationships. This must always apply to the Bahá’ís, whether they are serving in the pioneering field or not.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 393)


While the Bahá’í woman should not be forbidden to have occasional meetings in the spirit of friendship with a man legally separated from his wife, dating in the spirit of courtship is outside the bounds of Bahá’í propriety, even where the interpersonal relationship of the couple is not blatant or flagrant, casting reflections upon the strict morality required of Bahá’ís. The Bahá’í should be advised to break off the acquaintanceship should it appear to progress beyond friendship, for the non-Bahá’í man is, as you correctly state, still married; the legal separation may carry with the hope and prospect of restoration of his marriage, a possibility which should not be obstructed by involvement with another woman. In cases such as this one, counsel rather than sanctions are called for, should the involvement of the Bahá’í woman require intervention.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 398)