The Kingdom’s soaring divorce rates have forced young Saudi girls to opt for pursuing higher education rather than getting married at an early age.
Divorce cases increased  to more than 30,000 in 2012, averaging 82 divorces per day, or three divorces an hour.
The study, conducted by the economic research unit at Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper, showed that there are 2.5 divorce cases for every 1,000 men  above 15.
“Divorce rates in the Kingdom are alarmingly high. To put an end to that, young couples must attend marriage counseling sessions before getting married,” says Dr. Aliyah Hani Hashim, a Jeddah-based marriage counselor.
“Having a certificate from a marriage counselor prior to getting married should be made obligatory. This will ensure a better understanding of the responsibilities spouses have toward one another, ” she said.
Hashim adds that the rate of divorce among youth is definitely on the increase and that many couples are getting divorced after only one or two years of marriage.
In earlier reports, the Ministry of Economy and Planning confirmed that while courts and marriage officials register around 70,000 marriage contracts annually, they also process more than 13,000 official divorce papers.
Basma Abuznada, a young Saudi who is a medical intern, says she is planning to go abroad to continue her medical studies rather than stay in the Kingdom and potentially get married at an early age.
“My parents are very adamant about finding a spouse for me even though I’m only 23. The idea of marriage in today’s world has totally changed in my mind. Being a witness to what most of my married friends are going through, I totally opt to continue my studies rather that get married early.”
She adds that divorce has become an easy way out. “I know a lot of other girls who prefer to continue their studies rather than get married early. Of course, there are marriages that work and couples that live happily, but it’s always better to be on the safe side and graduate first.”
Sophia Abdul Kader, another young Saudi, says that it is important to get to know potential husbands before getting married.
“Divorce today is occurring in very disturbing proportions and for the slightest reasons , which will definitely scare young girls off and change their perception of marriage.”
“There is a need for more marriage counseling courses conducted by expert psychologists throughout the Kingdom,” says Abdul Kader. “The Kingdom must take steps to help solve this problem and convince young girls that divorce is not the only solution to a bad relationship.”
Abdul Kader, 26, is delaying marriage simply out of fear. She is currently pursuing her MBA at a reputable college in Yanbu. “It is out of the fear of getting married that I continue studying so that my parents or relatives don’t bother me with talk of marriage. Of course, some day I have to face it, but for now, I just need to convince myself that divorce is not happening to every couple.”
The study also showed that the Kingdom ranked second among GCC countries for the highest divorce rates after Bahrain, where the rate stands at 2.7 cases for every 1,000 people.
The same study showed an upward trend in divorce cases  in 2012 compared with 2010, when divorce cases amounted to 75 a day.