For a foreigner, marrying a Chinese person is no longer a puzzle any more, especially, in international metropolis cities like Chongqing and Chengdu. However, being a reckless bride or groom is definitely unwise unless you are sure to shoulder certain responsibilities and obligations since the date of your marriage. Therefore, having some basic knowledge regarding Chinese marriage law is helpful.
First of all, making sure you are single and older than 22 if you are male or 20 if you are female, before you decide to get married in China. And you are not supposed to be the close relative of your soon to be bride or groom.
Getting married in China can be easy, if you really think it’s time to do so: appearing together for registration at the relevant authority (usually, the civil affair department) with the required certificates and documents. You should present a certification certifying that you do not have a spouse at the time of marriage, which shall be issued by a notary institution or competent governmental authority in the state of your origin and be authenticated by the Chinese embassy or consulate in that state.
From the date of your marriage, you are “half Chinese”, as some people usually say. You enjoy rights hereafter, and you hold responsibility at the same time. Briefly, they are as following:
Right of Equality: Husband and wife have equal status in the family. Both husband and wife have the right to use his or her own surname and given name, and have the freedom to engage in production and other work, to study and to participate in social activities. And either husband or wife has the power to dispose of the community property for their daily needs of life without having to obtain the consent of the other, but on the other hand, the couple shall have to, through consultation, reach an agreement on significant disposition of the community property for non-daily needs of life.
Duty of loyalty: One spouse owes a duty of loyalty to the other. A serious breach of this duty, for instance bigamy and cohabitation with any third party, will entitle the other to claim damages upon divorce. Damages are generally granted by courts to compensate the emotional distress and material losses suffered by the non-breaching spouse.
Duty to Support: Husband and wife have the duty to maintain each other. If one party fails to perform this duty, the party in need of maintenance shall have the right to demand maintenance payments from the other party.
Right of Succession: Upon decease of one spouse, the surviving spouse has the right to inherit the properties of the decedent spouse at the time of death.
In China, one of the most important principle about marriage is that all the assets gained before marriage are individual property, and all the income gained after marriage are community property if there is no marital property agreement stipulates otherwise. Therefore, a couple may enter into an agreement in writing providing that properties acquired during or prior to marriage are separately owned by each, or concurrently owned by both, in each case, in part or in whole. In absence of such agreement, properties shall be owned by spouses according to statutory rules.
May you always have everything you wish for a rich life together!
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