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Regulations on marriage and divorce

Updated: Nov 8,2017 en.safea.gov.cn Print

I.Marriage

Marriage between Chinese citizens and foreigners refers to marriage between Chinese citizens and foreign nationals, including Chinese holding foreign nationality, foreign nationals and stateless persons residing in China. Same sex marriages are forbidden in China.

Legal basis

According to Article 147 of the General Principles of the Civil Law of the People's Republic of China, marriage of a Chinese citizen to a foreigner shall be bound by the law of the place where they get married. Marriages in China, regardless of the nationality of those being married, are registered according to the laws of China.

Marriage registration authority

Under the current marriage law of the People's Republic of China, marriage registration is administered by the local offices of civil affairs.

The appropriate marriage registration office shall be the one designated by the province, autonomous region, or municipality directly under the Central Government, and the one that is stationed in the locality where the residency (hukou) of the Chinese citizen is registered.

Qualifications of marriage between Chinese citizens and foreigners

1) Both reach the legal marital age, i.e. no earlier than 22 for male, no earlier than 20 for female.

2) Both are voluntary and single.

3) Without the relationship of linear consanguinity or of collateral consanguinity within the third generation each other.

4) Both have no diseases leading to prohibition or postponement of marriage by law.

These Chinese citizens are not permitted to marry foreigners:

1.Army men in active service, diplomatic personnel, public security personnel, confidential personnel, and other personnel who are in charge of important confidential work.

2.People who are receiving reeducation through labor or serving a sentence.

Rights of husband and wife

1.Both husband and wife shall have the right to use his or her own surname and given name.

2.Both husband and wife shall have the freedom to engage in production and other work, to study, and to participate in social activities; neither party may restrict or interfere with the other party.

3.Husband and wife shall enjoy equal rights in the disposition of their jointly owned property.

4.Husband and wife shall have the right to inherit each other’s property.

Duties of husband and wife

1.Both husband and wife shall have the duty to practice family planning.

2.Husband and wife shall have the duty to maintain each other intending to maintain the stability of the marital relationship.

Joint possession of husband and wife

The following property acquired by the husband and the wife during the period in which they are under contract of marriage shall be in their joint possession:

1) Wages and bonuses

2) Proceeds of production and business operations

3) Income from intellectual property rights

4) Property acquired from inheritance or presentation, with the exception of such property as stipulated by the provisions of the third item of Article 18 of the Marriage Law

5) Other property which should be in their joint possession.

While the property in the following cases shall belong to one party of the couple:

1) The property that belongs to one party before marriage

2) Payments for medical expenses received by one party who suffers physical injury, subsidies for living expenses granted to the disabled subsidies, etc

3) The property to be in the possession of one party as determined by a will or by an agreement of a gift

4) Articles for daily use specially used by one party

5) Other property which should be in the possession of one party.

II.Divorce

Legal basis

The General Principles of the Civil Law of the People's Republic of China, Article 147, set forth the principle that a divorce shall be bound by the law of the place where a court accepts the case.

Divorce registration authority

Chinese citizens who are planning to apply for divorce voluntarily from foreigners in Chinese mainland and Chinese inland residents who are planning to apply for divorce voluntarily from Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan residents or overseas Chinese in Chinese mainland, both the man and woman shall go to the marriage registration authority that has jurisdiction over the place where the permanent household of the Chinese inland resident is registered.

A divorce shall be granted under the circumstances

1) Where one party commits bigamy or cohabits with another person of the opposite sex;

2) Where one party indulges in family violence or mistreats or abandons family members;

3) Where one party indulges in gambling, taking drugs, or other behaviors and refuses to correct after repeated persuasion;

4) Where both parties have separated from each other for two full years for lack of mutual affection;

5) Other cases which lead to the shattering of affection between husband and wife.

A husband may not apply for a divorce when 1) his wife is pregnant; 2) within one year after the birth of a child; 3) within six months after the termination of his wife’s gestation.

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