Divorce Lawyers in China

Divorce Procedure in China

Updated on Monday 28th January 2019

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Dissolving a marriage in China can take place whether by settling an agreement or by litigation. The couples who want to obtain the divorce need to understand the rules and regulations in this matter, if children or assets are involved, in order to choose the proper solution. Our divorce lawyers in China are able to provide you with legal support and representation in the court of law if you decide to divorce from your partner. Proper counseling in your case is recommended, especially if you are a foreigner married to a Chinese citizen.

Divorce by agreement in China

The easiest way to end a marriage in China is to request a divorce by agreement. In this case, both the husband and the wife decide that, due to certain reasons, the marriage can no longer function. The legal procedures, in this case, are fast and involve low costs. The Marriage Registration Offices in China handle this type of divorce. The documents that need to be provided by the couple filing for divorce are:
  • - residence certificate;
  • - identification documents;
  • - marriage certificate;
  • - divorce agreement signed by both parties out of free will;
  • - photos.
Special regulations apply when the marriage was concluded in another country and the marriage certificate was issued by a foreign government. In this case, the only possible divorce procedure is to request a divorce by litigation. However, with the help of a divorce Chinese attorney, this procedure should be straightforward. We can also help you divide any assets, like any properties in China that were purchased during the marriage.

Divorce by litigation in China

When the spouses are both Chinese and cannot mutually agree to end the marriage, one of the parties can appeal to a people’s court in China which will decide upon the divorce. A divorce by litigation requires more steps and will last longer. Also, this type of procedure will involve more costs. If the judge’s decision is against divorce, the plaintiff can appeal the judgment six months after it was issued.

The difference between divorce and legal separation in China

From the beginning, it is good to know that a legal separation is different from a divorce procedure in China. A legal separation in China is a temporary solution for couples who need some time to consider the aspects and the problems in their marriage, with the purpose of reconciliation and eventually the avoidance of the divorce procedure. Furthermore, a legal separation in China can take between one to five years, and if the reconciliation is not possible, the divorce proceedings will be intended. Foreign citizens married to a Chinese and deciding to divorce or to legally separate should consider that the authorities will need proof of at least one-year residency.

Divorce procedure for foreigners in China

The divorce cases in China in which foreign citizens are involved are dealt with special courts of law under certain conditions. For instance, both spouses need to agree on dissolving the marriage, must have residency in China and must respect the applicable legislation in matters of divorce in China. It is good to know that the divorce issued in China is recognized in any country in the world, but for more details in this sense, you can talk to our Chinese divorce lawyers who can explain the entire process and the transfer procedure in the case of foreign citizens.

Who can file for divorce in China?

Foreign citizens living in China, expats who got married in China and two Chinese citizens living in the country or abroad can file for divorce in China, in respect with the legislation, and particularly with the Family Law. The divorce by agreement is normally the procedure accepted by both spouses who want to separate in a friendly manner, without spending much time with the Chinese courts. In this case, the divorce settlement confirmation is the procedure that applies to foreigners living in China and wanting to separate by agreement. However, it is important to know that the courts in China are entirely responsible for each case of divorce, whether it involves Chinese citizens or foreigners with residency in mainland China. As for the procedure involved, the magistrates will validate the mutual agreement, if spouses agreed on the assets and responsibilities. Because this divorce procedure is classified as a litigation case, a civil mediation statement is issued by the courts of law in China. Do not hesitate to talk to our advisors and find out complete information about the divorce process and the requirements involved.

When is a contentious divorce declared in China?

A contentious divorce is granted in China if the spouses lived separately for at least 2 years, if the circumstances lead to the alienation of mutual affection and if one of the spouses committed bigamy. There are also other reasons and circumstances that stand at the base of a contentious divorce in China, like the following:
  • one of the spouses had a drug addiction or gambling problems;
  • the acts of domestic violence and sexual acts without consent will grant a contentious divorce;
  • if the spouse is declared missing, the partner can file for a divorce;
  • incompatibility or cohabitating with a third party are other solid reasons that stand at the base of divorce in China.
A contentious divorce is normally handled through litigation due to its complexity, but if the case requires, this solution can be the proper one instead of a mutual agreement. Our divorce lawyers in China can offer the entire help and guidance for persons interested in separation and the legal requirements in this matter.

Do I need the original marriage certificate when getting a divorce?

Yes, the marriage certificate in original is the official document necessary at the time you want to file for a divorce in China. If you are a foreign couple that got married in other countries than China but wants to divorce, you should know that the marriage certificate issued by the relevant authorities in that other country is needed. In the case of Chinese citizens, the Civil Bureau of Affairs is the institution that records the marriages in China and that issues the certificates in this sense.

Child custody after a divorce in China

Child custody in China might be complex, especially if both parents are fighting in the court of law in this direction. The magistrates will consider the needs of the children involved in a marriage, their wishes and the financial status of the parents. A verification in this sense can be made by the authorities, in order to make the right decision in the case of children, after a divorce in China. The child support or the alimony enters the obligation of the parent who did not win the custody and sums up approximately 30% of the yearly revenue. According to the Family Law in China, the alimony is paid until the child reaches 18 years of age, or if the minor is 16 and has a job or joined the military service. Just like in the case of divorce procedure, the courts of law in China are in charge of the child custody and the involved matters like alimony, visiting days, conditions, etc. It is highly recommended to solicit the support of an experienced Chinese divorce attorney if you have decided for divorce and if there are children involved after the marriage, especially for foreigners who have no idea about the applicable laws in China.

Other divorce procedures in China

If divorce by agreement is adopted by a couple formed by a Chinese citizen and a foreigner, the process may take up to one month. The confirmation of the divorce is made by the people’s court in China once the court hearing is closed. Foreigners married in China who want to file for divorce can choose the divorce settlement confirmation where the main aspects of their separation are mentioned in this document issued by the court.
Our law firm in China can offer you legal representation if you have entered a foreign related marriage in China and want to start the court proceedings for divorce, so please feel free to contact us.