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Year of Waiting - LSA's Role

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 … 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 … 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.
(Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom, 24 February 1983)


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)


… There should be no intervention into the marital affairs of individuals in a Bahá’í community unless and until the parties themselves bring a problem to the Assembly. Prior to that it is not the business of the Assembly to counsel the parties.
(Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, 22 March 1968)


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.(Universal House of Justice Lights of Guidance, p. 390)