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

Year of Waiting

Bahá’ís who do not live under the jurisdiction of a Local Spiritual Assembly are free to seek the assistance of any neighboring Assembly. Once the year of waiting has begun, however, jurisdiction for the year of waiting should be retained by the Assembly which established it.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


Bahá’u’lláh requires the husband to maintain the wife during the year of patience.
(Compilations, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


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 the standard help up to the individual. It is not a law, but an exhortation. It is a goal to which we should strive.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 390)


Far from being required to live together during the year of patience, the parties are in fact prohibited from doing so.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 394)


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)


If both parties relocate but remain close to the original Assembly, that Assembly would retain jurisdiction.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


If one partner moves during the year of waiting, it is preferable for the Assembly that initially counseled the couple to retain responsibility for the case. The person may seek the counsel of a new Local Spiritual Assembly, however, which should support the guidance and decisions of the Assembly which has jurisdiction. The new Local Spiritual Assembly should not assume jurisdiction for the year of waiting without the prior approval of the Spiritual Assembly that currently has jurisdiction and both parties to the year of waiting.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


In reply to your letter of … requesting clarification about the use of the phrases “year of waiting” and “year of patience,” the Universal House of Justice has instructed us to say that while it is preferable to use “year of waiting,” either phrase can be used.
(Compilations, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


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‘. 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, Lights of Guidance, p. 390)


It is permissible, when necessary, to initiate civil divorce proceedings before the ending of the year of waiting. Obviously, it is much more in the spirit of Bahá’í law for a believer to approach the Spiritual Assembly before initiating any civil proceedings, but if he does the reverse this is not a sanctionable offense.
(Universal House of Justice, Divorce, p. 21)


It is preferable that the parties stay close enough to each other during the year of waiting to create greater opportunities for consultation and to increase the possibility of reconciliation.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)


It is understood that two Bahá’ís who reach the point of strain where they feel a divorce is necessary need time to cool down and reflect, which is, of course, the purpose of the year of waiting.
(Universal House of Justice, USA National Spiritual Assembly Guidelines for Local Spiritual Assemblies, Ch. 13 – Divorce; Revised September 2011)


It should be pointed out that civil suit for divorce and Bahá’í divorce are entirely different matters… . recourse to the civil authority is only for the purpose of giving legal sanction to the divorce. No sanction should be imposed merely because the believer has commenced a civil action for divorce before the expiration of the year of patience.
(Universal House of Justice, Divorce, p. 20)


No husband should subject his wife to abuse of any kind, whether emotional, mental or physical.... When a Bahá’í wife finds herself in such a situation and feels it cannot be resolved through consultation with her husband, she could well turn to the Local Spiritual Assembly for advice and guidance, and might also find it highly advantageous to seek the assistance of competent professional counsellors. If the husband is also a Bahá’í, the Local Spiritual Assembly can bring to his attention the need to avoid abusive behaviour and can, if necessary, take firm measures to encourage him to conform to the admonitions of the teachings. 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. As you know, in the Bahá’í Faith, divorce is discouraged and should be resorted to only when a prolonged effort to effect reconciliation has been unsuccessful. However, it should also be noted that divorce is permissible when an irreconcilable antipathy exists between the two parties to the marriage.
(Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 458)


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 each 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 couple 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.
(From a letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, February 24, 1983)


QUESTION: If during the year of patience the fragrance of affection be renewed, only to be succeeded by antipathy, and the couple waver between affection and aversion throughout the year, and the year endeth in antipathy, can divorce take place or not?
ANSWER: In each case at any time antipathy occurreth, the year of patience beginneth on that day, and the year must run its full course.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 119)


Should a woman be divorced in consequence of a proven act of infidelity, she shall receive no maintenance during her period of waiting.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Kitáb-i-Aqdas, para. 70)


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.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 396)


The believer will be subject to sanctions if he should marry a third party within the year of patience, not only because it is a violation of the year of patience itself, but also because even though a civil divorce has been granted, the Bahá’í divorce cannot be granted until the end of the year of patience. For this reason no marriage is possible during the running of the year of patience unless the parties to the divorce remarry each other in a civil ceremony.
(Letter written on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, dated July 18, 1973, quoted in the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Canada’s Assembly Resource Compilation, p. DIV-20)


The date for the beginning of the year of waiting having been fixed, it is the obligation of the parties to make every effort to reconcile their differences and to try to preserve the marriage. The Spiritual Assembly has the obligation to offer them every assistance in this regard.
(Universal House of Justice, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 453)


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.
(Summarized guidance from the Universal House of Justice given to Spiritual Assemblies and individual believers dated 5 January 1983)


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)


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 Bahá’í law requiring the removal of voting rights for obtaining a civil divorce before the end of the year of waiting. It is, of course, preferred that civil divorce action be not instituted or completed before the end of the year unless there are special circumstances justifying such action. If a Bahá’í should marry another prior to the end of the year of waiting however, voting rights should be suspended as, under Bahá’í law, he is still regarded as married whether or not the civil divorce has been granted. On the other hand, if a non-Bahá’í partner, having obtained a civil divorce, marries during the year of waiting, the Bahá’í partner is released from the need to wait further.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 399)


Therefore … 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.
(Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 394)


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 differences, 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, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 457-458)


While it is not forbidden for Bahá’ís to consult with a Local Spiritual Assembly other than their own, it is highly discouraged, because it could potentially undermine the authority and prestige of the Assembly under whose jurisdiction one resides.
(Universal House of Justice, NSA USA - Developing Distinctive Bahá’í Communities)