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Chinese Family Law – Professional Legal Advice

Family Law in China

Updated on Tuesday 08th November 2022

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Family Law in China
 
 
If you are a foreigner who wants to get married in China or you are considering establishing a family there, you should know how family life is regulated by law and what rights you have in China. Our Chinese attorneys can help you if you want to get married in China, file for divorce, or in any other matter regarding the Family Law.
 

Marriage and divorce in China

 
China has made significant changes to the laws regarding divorce in the country but has also made revisions to the rules governing marriage registration. Marriage registration has become compulsory in China, mainly because some couples were ignoring the legal requirements for registration and only performed the traditional wedding. A marriage will be considered void in China, if the legal requirements for the minimum age of the spouses are not met or if one of the spouses is already married. Marriage in China for non-natives is possible, however only in certain conditions. 
 
The revisions to the Marriage Law performed in 2001 also reflected the approach to a contested divorce. The changes were also determined by an increasing rate of divorce in China by the late 1990s. Our lawyers in China can help you with legal representation during divorce or if you need legal assistance for the division of the matrimonial assets during the divorce. It is important to know that the certificate of marriageability is needed at the time persons want to get married in China. Such a document provides information about a person’s marital status, whether married before or divorced. In-depth legal assistance is offered by our Chinese lawyers, at any time. Foreigners willing to get married in China are suggested to talk to our advisors for legal support. Here are a few numbers and statistics about divorce and marriage in China:
 
  • the marriage rate in China dropped by 7.2% in 2018;
  • the declining marriage rate is linked to the working-age population decline from 3 to 5 million in 2018;
  • persons aged between 25 and 29 are most likely to get married in China;
  • the divorce rate rose by 3.2% over the past 15 years.
 
Get in touch with our Chinese lawyers for more details. They can also assist you if you are planning to apply for residency in China
 

How to register a marriage in China?

 
If both individuals are Chinese, they must personally register the marriage at the marriage registration office. A marriage certificate will be issued to those who satisfy the requirements of the concerned law and will be registered. A marriage certificate establishes the relationship between a husband and wife. However, if one spouse is a foreigner, then to register their marriage, a Chinese citizen and the foreigner must both visit the Civil Affairs Bureau. This institution is usually authorized by the people's government of the province, autonomous region, or municipality where one of the Chinese citizens is registered. The bride and groom will submit registration applications there.
 
Over time, China's marriage regulations have seen significant changes. Since the regulations governing marriage have changed during the past five to ten years, it may be a little perplexing to register your marriage without the help of local experts. If you are seeking information about the laws governing families in China, you can consult with our lawyers. The lawyers at our law firm in China can provide you with comprehensive information and practical assistance regarding registering your marriage. Besides this, our immigration lawyers can also help you to relocate to China. 
 

Documents required for marriage registration in China

 
For registering a marriage, it is necessary to present a list of required documents. The following materials or certificates are required for preparation if both individuals are Chinese:
 
  • a house registration book and an ID card;
  • Certificate of marital status provided by the subdistrict office where the unit or household registration is located;
  • a divorce decree or death certificate for the previous spouse must be presented when remarrying;
  • passports, travel authorizations, and proofs of residency must all be current for both parties;
  • three freshly taken, two-inch-wide, colored images of the upper half of the body on either side.
 
The paperwork will be more cumbersome if one spouse is a foreigner. The required paperwork is specified in the list below:
 
  • passport or other proof of identification and citizenship;
  • the ID card issued by the foreign affairs department, the "Foreigner's Residency Permit" issued by the public security agency, or the entry and residence permit for a temporary visit to China;
  • the marital status certificate is issued by the state's embassy or consulate in China, or the marital status certificate is approved by the Ministry of foreign Affairs and the embassy or consulate in the country;
  • foreigners and foreign Chinese who hold a marriage certificate notarized by the notary office of their native country can use it for three months following the notarization. After the Chinese embassy or consulate certifies it, it will be processed.
 
After certification, the registration period for marriages is valid for six months. If you are having issues collecting these documents, you can get help from seasoned lawyers at our law firm in China.
 

What is the divorce by agreement in China?

 
Divorce by agreement means that persons involved can legally separate under the rules of a mutual arrangement. They can explain that the marriage is no longer in their best interest, and therefore, divorce is the only solution. This kind of agreement will comprise information about the personal belongings which need to be separated. Also, if it is the case, details about custody are presented. The legal procedures in a divorce by agreement comprise a complete file of documents like a residence certificate, the divorce agreement form, some photos, a copy of the marriage certificate, and identification documents. All the legal aspects of divorce by agreement can be explained by our team of lawyers in China.
 

Divorce procedure for foreigners in China

 
Foreign citizens wanting to get a divorce in China will have to ask for legal advice, as the applicable laws need to be understood:
 
  • foreign citizens wanting to get a divorce must prove they live in China;
  • special courts deal with divorce procedures of foreign citizens in China;
  • if children are involved, custody might be subject to complex matters;
  • a divorce issued in China is recognized anywhere in the world.
 
If you live in China and you want to file for divorce, you should ask for legal advice from our team of Chinese attorneys. Our expert lawyers can also help you with your Chinese citizenship application. 
 

How is child custody issued in China?

 
The principles of child custody in China are firm and addressed to the best interest of the little ones. For instance, children under 2 years of age are left in the mother’s care, meaning that she receives custody. You might want to observe the following aspects related to child custody in China:
 
  • parents will have to agree on the custody terms for children older than 2 years of age;
  • it is good to know that the Chinese authorities will act in the best interest of minors and offer custody to the parent that offers complete support;
  • child support is offered until the minor turns 18, and it represents approximately 30% of the annual income of a parent;
  • children over 10 years of age can tell if they want to live with their mother or their father;
  • visit schedules are normally established by the authorities in a court of law.
 
Immediate legal representation and advice are offered for cases of child custody from our team of lawyers in China. Divorce cases involving children are treated extremely seriously in China, so legal support is required from the beginning.
 

Establishing alimony in China

 
According to the Marriage Law of the People’s Republic of China, there are several requirements involving children's alimony in case of divorce. Financial support is established under certain rules and especially when the authorities find out complete information about the financial aspects of parents. The standard of living in the family is extremely important, and parents will have to prove they act in the best interest of their children. Alimony is normally paid by the parent who didn’t win the child's custody. The main condition is to pay the alimony until the child reaches 18 years of age or until he or she obtains a job. It is important to know that child support and the sum of money which needs to be paid by one of the parents is established in a court of law, as soon as the custody is settled. Because divorce cases involving children might be complex, it is significant to pay attention to the legal support which can be offered by our Chinese lawyers as soon as you get in touch with them.
 

Laws regarding children in China

 
One of the most important legal changes performed by the Chinese Government in the Family Law areas was the restrictions imposed on family size. The family planning policy or the one-child policy as it was referred to was introduced in China for Chinese nationals. Over the years, the rules relaxed and couples who did not have any siblings themselves were allowed to have two children. Family Law in China also controls child abduction and children’s rights.
 

Is cohabitation accepted in China?

 
The traditional family is highly sustained in China, however, no interdictions are referring to the cohabitation of unmarried persons in this country, whether foreigners or not. It is important to know that cohabitation is seen as a modern way of forming a family which can lead to a marriage at a certain point. Important changes have been registered and reported in China regarding the family aspects and how people want to live jointly. So, cohabitation of unmarried persons is not subject to specific restrictions and it is not considered offensive to traditional families, and people are free to live as they wish.
 
 
For more information about the Family Law or if you need legal advice and assistance in a family matter in China, you can consult with our Chinese law firm.
 

Things you need to know before marrying a Chinese national 

 
International marriages are becoming more prevalent, and marriages between foreigners and Chinese nationals are no exception. In most cases, there is no need to get married in both countries because marriage in one is typically recognized in the others. The rules and procedures for an international marriage are those of the country you are getting married in. However, there are a few factors that can render a marriage illegitimate elsewhere, such as the minimum age at which a person may marry and the possibility of having many spouses in some societies. 
 
Also keep in mind that even though your country recognizes your overseas marriage, the entry of your spouse in your country usually does not come with an automatic right; instead, it usually requires a separate application. Similar to how a foreigner does not automatically have the right to live in China just because they married a Chinese. The application for a family visit visa or residence permits with a longer stay in China is now open to foreigners who have a Chinese spouse living in China as of June 1, 2010. Our lawyers in China can also provide you with additional information that you should be aware of before getting married in China. 
 

Marriage and divorce statistics in China 

 
Please find below the marriage and divorce statistics in China:
 
  • in China, both the divorce and birth rates are increasing at the same time. The younger Chinese population is delaying marriage more frequently now;
  • China's marriage rate reached its highest point in 2013 after steadily dropping to 5.4 marriages for every 1,000 inhabitants in 2021;
  • China's divorce rate has dropped to 3.09 divorces for every 1,000 people as of 2020. This figure had been steadily rising before that year since 2000.
 
Contact our law firm in China if you are seeking any legal advice. Our lawyers can explain the currently applicable Chinese Family Law to you. 
Furthermore, if you want to buy property in China, the services of our lawyers are at your disposal.