The extended family structure of hundreds of family was broken down in a matter of months in the small Chinese town of Renhe when thousands of locals headed off to get divorced. The age groups applying for the mass divorces, which took place in July 2006, were largely varied, occurring amongst both the young and the very old.

Local authorities were shocked by this sudden surge especially when they realized that 98% of the village of 4 000 people had applied to end their marriage.

In fact, Renhe’s marriage registry claimed that there were times when there were 100 applicants per day.

However, government folk discovered that these mass divorces were actually a scheme concocted by the residents in a bid to acquire more property.

In this case, the small town was part of a huge building project whereby authorities were buying off farm land with one-bedroom apartment being thrown in as compensation for the former landowners.

The residents figured that a divorced couple would get an apartment each whereas ones who were still together would receive only one.

Using this logic, most of them were actually planning to remarry their former spouse after the new housing had been assigned.

Thus, they would have one apartment for living purposes whilst the second one would be rented out for extra income.

Unfortunately for these devious schemers, the local authorities revised the provisions of the compensation deal.

Thereby, folks who went their separate ways after this regulation change actually had to pay for the additional apartment.

In the end, the schemers lost out not only on extra property but on their married life.

In most cases, the divorced spouse either loved being single or went off with someone else.

In the words of 58-year-old Wang Fen, who had ended her 40 year old marriage: “We are miserable! There are broken families everywhere. We were very happy before. But he had a change of heart and married a younger woman.”

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Shinigami (A. K. Goemans) is a Netherlands-based writer who is into horror movies, computer games and manga. She lived in different parts of Asia and Africa before settling down in the Netherlands.