Although Islamic law allows for divorce, social norms neither encourage nor easily accept it. Courts also do not approve requests for divorce without adequate counseling and reconciliation efforts. The current Islamic government has instructed judges to slow the process so that couples may fi nd enough time to overcome the initial disagreements that had led to a request for separation. Many women in distressed marriages are under immense social pressure to remain married no matter how destructive the marriage is to the couple or their children. This pressure comes from their husbands, relatives, and peer groups. Social and economic support for divorced women is often negligible in the face of, at the least, basic economic stability from a wage-earning husband. Many women are effectively trapped in marriage, because of their own economic marginalization and concerns for the welfare of the children. According to the Shari‘a, men have the right to divorce at will, and women cannot initiate a divorce that their husbands oppose unless they can prove the husbands’ sexual impotence, drug addiction, incarceration for life, or other conditions specifi ed by religion. One protection given to women after the revolution is the authority to write a prenuptial agreement stipulating the conditions under which the couple may initiate a divorce. This has been a no-starter for women for several reasons. First, in traditional families in rural and small towns, most decisions about marriage are made by parents based on family status, economic concerns, and community obligations. Second, large numbers of eligible women do not fi nd themselves in such a social and economic position to be able to raise the specter of divorce at such an early stage in their life. Third, men generally perceive such a demand as a sign of assertiveness—a feature still unattractive to prospective male suitors. Finally, even when such a contract is signed, it has to be implemented by a maledominated court—a system negatively biased toward divorce. According to Islamic law, once divorced, women are prohibited from remarrying for three menstrual cycles in order to determine the paternity of any unborn child. Similar waiting periods apply to women who have lost their husbands by death. After a divorce, men often retain a remarkable amount of control over their ex-wives, largely due to custody laws, which generally grant custody to the mother only until the children reach the age of 7 and only if she has not remarried. Moreover, divorced women face an especially powerful stigma and are often pressured to remarry. In most cases, being widowed or divorced makes it very difficult for a woman to fi nd a suitable husband, unless she is rich, young, or physically attractive. Despite all the misgivings and negative attitudes about divorce, the number of couples divorcing has been increasing steadily. This increase is pronounced among younger couples without children and living in major cities, especially Tehran, in which more than a quarter of all divorces take place. As the population has migrated to cities and become more educated and more mobile, traditional norms holding couples together in hard times have given way to convenience, autonomy, and higher expectations of family life. As women have become more educated, employed, and financially independent, they have become more reluctant to remain in bad marriages. According to government statistics, 80 percent of requests for divorce are filed by women.