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  • Writer's pictureAvon Y.F. Zhao

How is property distributed when foreigners divorce in China?

Property division is an inescapable topic in the divorce process. As a foreign national, in addition to negotiating a divorce with the spouse, if it is necessary to initiate a lawsuit for divorce in China, it is important to have an understanding of the Chinese legal provisions on the division of property upon divorce in order to protect one's rights and interests as much as possible.

In China, the division of property upon divorce generally follows the principles of priority of agreement between the parties, equal division of marital property, and non-participation of personal property in the division. However, special explanations are needed for some special circumstances that may arise.

property distributed when foreigners divorce in China

The specific principles are as follows:

(1) Community Property:Property acquired by the spouses during the existence of the marital relationship is generally considered as marital property and should be equally divided upon divorce.

(2) Separate Property: Personal property owned before marriage, property inherited or received as a gift, and compensations such as medical expenses and disability living allowances obtained by one party due to physical injury are usually considered as personal property and are not subject to division upon divorce.

(3) Agreement Priority: If the spouses reach a consensus on property division, the court generally respects their agreement.

(4) Care for Children and the Wife: When dividing marital property, the court will consider the interests of the children and the contributions of both parties to the family, and may consider the needs of the party who primarily cares for the children or the wife.

(5) Debt Sharing: Joint debts incurred by the spouses during the existence of the marital relationship need to be shared by both parties upon divorce.

(6) Fault Liability: If one party causes the divorce due to serious fault, such as bigamy or domestic violence, the innocent party can claim compensation.

In addition to the aforementioned regulations, as a foreign national, there are a few points that require your special attention:

(7) Disposition of Offshore Assets:Due to difficulties in verifying information on property outside mainland China, the Chinese courts may focus on assets within mainland China during litigation. However, if the parties reach an agreement, some courts may include the division of offshore assets in their mediation agreements or records.

(8) Evidence Documentation Requirements:To claim the division of marital property obtained during the existence of the marriage, it is necessary to provide evidence that the property was acquired by the couple during the marriage, such as real estate purchased jointly by the couple during the marriage.

As a foreign national, when proving this fact, you may need to provide some evidence materials, such as proof of transfer, identity proof, and housing purchase contracts. If the documents are not in Chinese, they must be translated before being submitted to the court. Moreover, if the documents are issued by institutions outside China, they will need to go through a notarization and certification process.

In summary, as a foreign national, when filing for divorce in China through litigation, the disposition of marital property generally follows the principles of prioritizing mutual agreement between the parties, dividing equally if agreement cannot be reached, and making exceptions to take care of the weaker party. However, there may be issues such as difficulty in disposing of offshore assets through this process and challenges in proving matters when disputes arise. When necessary, it is advisable to seek assistance from a professional lawyer from Landing Law Offices China.


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