Marriage Law of the People's Republic of China




(Adopted at the Third Session of the Fifth National People's Congress on September 10,1980, and amended in accordance with Decision Regarding the Amendment (of Marriage Law of the People's Republic of China) passed at 21st Session of the Standing Committee of the Ninth National People's Congress on April 28,2001)




Chapter I    General Provisions




Article 1 This Law is the Fundamental code governing marriage and family relations.




Article 2 A marriage system based on the free choice of partners, on monogamy and on equality between man and woman shall be applied.




The lawful rights and interests of women, children and old people shall be protected.




Family planning shall be practised.




Article 3 Marriage upon arbitrary decision by any third party, mercenary marriage and any other acts of interference in the freedom of marriage shall be prohibited. The exaction of money or gifts in connection with marriage shall be prohibited.




Bigamy shall be prohibited. Cohabitation of a married person with any third party shall be prohibited. Domestic violence shall be prohibited. Within the family maltreatment and desertion of one family member by another shall be prohibited.




Article 4 Husband and wife shall be faithful to and respect each other. Within the family family members shall respect the old and cherish the young, help one another, and maintain equal, harmonious and civilized marriage and family relations.




Chapter II    Marriage Contract




Article 5 Marriage must by based upon the complete willingness of both man and woman. Neither party may use compulsion on the other party and no third party may interfere.




Article 6 No marriage may be contracted before the man has reached 22 years of age and the woman 20 years of age. Late marriage and late childbirth shall be encouraged.




Article 7 No marriage may be contracted under any of the following circumstances:




(1)if the man and the woman are lineal relatives by blood, or collateral relatives by blood up to the third degree of kinship; and




(2)if the man or the woman is suffering from any disease, which is regarded by medical science as rendering a person unfit for marriage.




Article 8 Both the man and the woman desiring to contract a marriage shall register in person with the marriage registration office. If the proposed marriage is found to conform with the provisions of this Law, the couple shall be allowed to register and issued marriage certificates. The husband and wife relationship shall be established as soon as they acquire the marriage certificates. In the absence of the marriage registration, the man and the woman shall go through the procedures subsequently.




Article 9 After a marriage has been registered, the woman may become a member of the man"s family or vice versa, depending on the agreed wishes of the two parties.




Article 10 Marriage shall be invalid under any of the following circumstances:




(1)if one party commits bigamy;




(2)if the man and the woman are relatives by blood up to the third degree of kinship;




(3)if, before marriage, one party is suffering from a disease which is regarded by medical science as rendering a person unfit for marriage and, after marriage, a cure is not effected; and




(4)if the legally marriageable age is not attained.




Article 11 In the case of a marriage made under coercion, the coerced party may make a request to the marriage registration office or the people's court for the dissolution of the marriage contract. Such a request shall be made within one year as of the marriage registration date. The party concerned whose personal freedom is curbed illegitimately shall make a request for dissolution of the marriage contract within one year as of the date on which his or her personal freedom is restored.




Article 12 Void or dissolved marriage shall be invalid from its inception. Neither party concerned shall have the rights and duties of husband or wife. The property acquired during their cohabitation shall be subject to disposition by mutual agreement. If they fail to reach an agreement, the people's court shall give a ruling on the principle of caring for the no-fault party. The disposition of the property of void marriage caused by bigamy may not be to the detriment of the property rights and interests of the party concerned to the lawful marriage. The provisions of this Law regarding parents and children shall apply to the children born from the parties concerned.




Chapter III    Family Relations




Article 13 Husband and wife shall have equal status in the family.




Article 14 Both husband and wife shall have the right to use his or her own surname and given name.




Article 15 Both husband and wife shall have the freedom to engage in production and other work, to study and to participate in social activities; neither party may restrict or interfere with the other party.




Article 16 Both husband and wife shall have the duty to practise family planning.




Article 17 The following items of property acquired by husband and wife during the period in which they are under contract of marriage shall be jointly possessed:




(1)pay and bonus;




(2)earnings from production and operation;




(3)earnings from intellectual property rights;




(4)property obtained from inheritance of gift except as provided for in Article 18(3) of this Law; and




(5)Any other items of property which shall be in his or her separate possession.




Article 19 So far as the property acquired during the period in which they are under contract of marriage and the prenuptial property are concerned, husband and wife may agree as to whether they should be in the separate possession, joint possession or partly separate possession and partly joint possession. The agreement shall be made in writing. The provisions of Articles 17 and 18 of this Law shall apply to the absence of such an agreement or to a vague one.




The agreement reached between the husband and wife on the property acquired during the period in which they are under contract of marriage and on the prenuptial property is binding on both parties.




If husband and wife agree, as is known to the third party, to separately possess their property acquired during their marriage life, the debt owed by the husband or the wife to any other person, shall be paid off out of the property separately possessed by him or her.




Article 20 Husband and wife shall 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.