Landmark divorce ruling in China

A Divorce Court in Beijing has made what some Chinese commentators are calling a landmark ruling in respect of a decision made in the case of Mr Chen and his Wife Mrs Wang.

The Judge ruled that Mrs Wang was to receive financial compensation for her Husband in respect of the household chores which she did throughout their five-year marriage.

The Judge ordered Mrs Wang 50,000 yuan or £5,460 for the five years of unpaid domestic labour.

This ruling was made further to a new civic code which was introduced in China which came into effect in 2021. Under this new law, a divorcing spouse can seek financial compensation if they had borne most of the responsibility in respect of childcare or caring for elderly relatives.

Traditionally these emotionally laborious roles of a marriage are borne by the woman.

In China, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, women spend on average four hours a day of what is deemed unpaid work, which is roughly 2.5 times that of men.

The ruling is in contrast to the position taken by Family Courts in England and Wales. The Court considers that in cases where one parent stays at home to care for the children of the marriage and the other pursues a career, the Court will treat will treat the contributions made by each of the parties to the marriage a broadly equivalent value even though they be different in kind Miller v Miller;McFarlane v McFarlane [2006] UKHL 24, [2006] 2 AC 618, [2006] 1FLR 1186.

In the UK, when making a decision in respect of a fair financial settlement, the Court will have consideration of the criteria set out in Section 25 of the Matrimonial Cases Act 1973. Once aspect of the criteria relates to any contributions one party to the marriage may have made to the family by caring for children and maintain the home.

The Section 25 criteria are:

  1. The welfare of any minor child
  2. The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future, including in the case of earning capacity any increase in that capacity which it would in the opinion of the court be reasonable to expect a party to the marriage to take steps to acquire;
  3. The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;
  4. The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage;
  5. The age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage;
  6. Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage;
  7. The contributions which each of the parties has made or is likely in the foreseeable future to make to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family;
  8. The conduct of each of the parties, if that conduct is such that it would in the opinion of the court be inequitable to disregard it;
  9. In the case of proceedings for divorce or nullity of marriage, the value to each of the parties to the marriage of any benefit which, by reason of the dissolution or annulment of the marriage, that party will lose the chance of acquiring.

Contact us, we are here to help

We’re here to help, so please pick up the phone or drop us an email and one of our dedicated team will help with your enquiry.