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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Arguing couple split up by sawing their house in half

Arguing couple split up by sawing their house in half

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Financial costs associated with a legal seperation prompted the husband and wife to literally divide their house in two

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The remains of the house in Cheach commune, Prey Veng province after it was sawn in two by an arguing couple.

ACOUPLE in Prey Veng province has simplified the messy legal task of divorce by literally sawing their house in two, according to local officials. 

The house, situated in Cheach commune, Kamchay Mea district, was divided into two parts on Thursday after the couple who owned the property decided to separate following an argument.

Cheach commune chief Vorng Morn said the couple did not separate over anything "big", only the small problem of the husband feeling his wife had not cared for him when he became ill.

"His wife said that if her husband got sick and stayed at home, she was made to pay for his medicine, but if he stayed at his parent's house, she wouldn't have to pay. So they separated," he said. 

"We tried to persuade them to think clearly before they did this because they had been married for nearly 40 years," Vorng Morn added. "But they did not listen."

The couple also decided to divide their land into four parts; two for their son and daughter, and two for them.

Side-stepping the law

Divorce has become an increasingly convoluted legal process in Cambodia, with couples  now required to go through their commune chiefs  who often pressure them to stay together. It can also cost a lot of money in informal fees.

Pok Chhon, deputy governor of Kamchay Mea district, said the couple should have followed the law.

"We tried to persuade them to deal with the problem through the law, that they should go to the commune office to negotiate and if they cannot settle the problem they can continue to provincial court," he said. 

But Prak Phin, a lawyer from Legal Support for Child and Women (LSCW) in Prey Veng province, said that dividing a property was legal if both parties were in agreement.

"But it does not mean that they are legally divorced," he said.  "If in the future they have any disagreements, the provincial chief will not be responsible, as there had not been a judgment from the court." 

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