The growing use of social media is a major factor behind a dramatic increase in the divorce rate, according to a lawyer.
Couples who spend too long chatting online instead of talking and devoting time to each other risk growing apart, said Liu Lin of Beijing Shuangli Law Firm.
Nine of 10 divorce cases Liu handles involve disputes triggered by social media, he added.
A report by the Ministry of Civil Affairs reveals that the number of couples getting divorced rose from 2.68 million in 2010 to 3.64 million in 2014. The figures show that the divorce rate has increased for 10 consecutive years.
"I never thought technology could break down a marriage, but I handled a divorce case triggered by QQ (a messaging tool) in 2011 and have since seen other similar cases," Liu said.
The rapid growth of social media, including the WeChat instant messaging service, makes communication easier, but can reduce the amount of time given to personal, face-to-face communication, something that is essential to sustain a marriage.
"If a housewife uses WeChat day and night it can create incompatibility between the couple and stop them communicating," Liu added.
However, the overuse of social media is just one of the factors behind the increasing number of divorces. So-called "fake divorces", where couples part to get around restrictions on purchasing property or to enroll their children in particular schools and then remarry, have also pushed up the divorce rate.
In one case, said Liu, parents who did not have a Beijing hukou, or household registration, divorced. The woman paid a Beijing man to marry her so she could obtain a Beijing hukou and enroll her child in one of the city's public schools. Once the child was enrolled, his mother divorced again and remarried her original husband.
"The couple, in other words, felt they had no alternative but to solve the problem of the child's enrollment by divorcing," he said.
Wang Jun, a specialist at Beijing Weiqing Marriage Consultants, said many couples come to her to seek advice on how to solve practical problems through divorce.
She said people have higher expectations of marriage than their parents, and the increase in prosperity has brought with it new challenges such as the need to spend long hours commuting, increasing the amount of time couples spend apart.
"A number of couples have told me they lost their love on the long way to work," Wang said.
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