Year of Waiting

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 Kitab-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, Kitab-i-Aqdas, para. 70

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

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. 390-391