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China Marriage Law of 1980 version

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China Marriage Law of 1980 version


          The China Marriage Law(1980 version) was adopted on September 10 1980 the third session of China's Fifth National People's Congress, superseded the Marriage Law of 1950.


Chapter 1 General principles:  

          Article 1, This law is the fundamental code governing marriage and family relations.

          Article 2, The marriage system based on the free choice of partners, on monogamy and on equal rights for the sexes, is put into effect. The lawful rights and interests of women, children and the aged are protected. Family planning is practiced.

          Article 3, Marriage upon arbitrary decision by any third party, mercenary marriage and any other acts of interference in the freedom of marriage are prohibited. The exaction of money or gifts in connection with marriage is prohibited. Bigamy is prohibited. Within the family maltreatment and desertion are prohibited.


Chapter 2 Marriage contract:

          Article 4, Marriage must be based upon the complete willingness of the two parties. Neither party shall use compulsion and no third party is allowed to interfere.

          Article 5, No marriage shall be contracted beforee the man has reached 22 years of age and the woman 20 years of age. Late marriage and late childbirth should be encouraged.

          Article 6, Marriage is not permitted in any of the following circumstances:

a) Where the man and woman are lineal relatives by blood or collateral relatives by blood (up to the third degree of relationship).

b) Where one party is suffering from leprosy, a cure not having been effected, or from any other disease which is regarded by medical science as rendering a person unfit for marriage.

          Article 7, Both the man and the woman desiringg to contract a marriage shall register in person with the marriage registration office. If the proposed marriage is found to be in conformity with the provisions of this law, registration shall be granted and a marriage certificate issued. The relationship between husband and wife is established when a marriage certificate is acquired.

          Article 8, After a marriage, has been registered, the woman may become a member of the man's family, or the man may become a member of the woman's family, according to the agreed wishes of the two parties.


Chapter 3 Family relations:

          Article 9, Husband and wife enjoy equal status in the home.

          Article 10, Husband and wife each have the right to use his or her family name.

          Article 11, Both husband and wife have the freedom to engage in production, to work, to study and to participate in social activities; neither party is allowed to restrain or interfere with the other.

           Article 12, Husband and wife are in duty bound to practice family planning.

          Article 13, The property acquired during the period in which husband and wife are under contract of marriage is in the joint possession of the two parties unless they have agreed otherwise. Husband and wife enjoy equal rights in the management of the property in their joint possession.

          Article 14, Husband and wife have the duty to support and assist each other. When one party fails to perform this duty, the party in need of support and assistance has the right to demand that the other party pay the cost of support and assistance.

          Article 15, Parents have the duty to rear and educate their children; children have the duty to support and assist their parents. When parents fail to perform this duty, their children who are minors or who are not capable of living on their own have the right to demand that their parents pay for their care. When children fail to perform the duty of supporting their parents, parents who have lost the ability to work or have difficulties in providing for themselves have the right to demand that their children pay for their support. Infanticide by drowning and any other acts causing serious harm to infants are prohibited.

          Article 16, Children may adopt either their father's or their mother's family name.

          Article 17, Parents have the right and duty to subject their children who are minors to discipline and to protect them. When children who are minors have done harm to the state, to the collective, or to any other person, their parents are in duty bound to compensate for any economic loss.

          Article 18, Husband and wife have the right to inherit each other's property. Parents and children have the right to inherit each other's property.

          Article 19, Children born out of wedlock enjoy the same rights as children born in lawful wedlock. No person shall harm them or discriminate against them. The father of a child born out of wedlock must bear part or the whole of the cost of maintenance and education of the child until he or she can live on his or her own.

          Article 20, The state protects lawful adoption. The relevant provisions in this law governing the relations between parents and children are applicable to the rights and duties in the relations between foster-parents and their foster- children. The rights and duties in the relations between foster-children and their natural parents are terminated on the establishment of a relationship of adoption.

          Article 21, No maltreatment or discrimination is allowed between step-parents and their stepchildren. The relevant provisions in this law governing the relations between parents and children are applicable to the rights and duties in the relations between step-fathers or stepmothers and their step-children who receive care and education from their step-parents.

          Article 22, Grandparents or maternal grandparents who have the capacity to bear the relevant costs have the duty to rear their grandchildren or maternal grandchildren who are minors and whose parents are deceased. Grandchildren or maternal grandchildren who have the capacity to bear the relevant costs have the duty to support and assist their grandparentss or maternal grandparents whose children are deceased.

          Article 23, Elder brothers or elder sisters who have the capacity to bear the relevant costs have the duty to rear their minor younger brothers or sisters whose parents either are deceased or have no capacity to rear them.


Chapter 4 Divorce:

          Article 24, Divorce is granted when husband and wife both desire it. Both parties should apply for divorce to the marriage registration office. The marriage registration office, after clearly establishing that divorce is desired by both parties and that appropriate measures have been taken for the care of any children and property, should issue the divorce certificate without delay.

          Article 25, When one party insists on divorce, the organizations concerned may try to effect a reconciliation, or the party may appeal directly to the people's court for a divorce. In dealing with a divorce case, the people's court should try to bring about a reconciliation between the parties. In cases of complete alienation of mutual affection, and when mediation has failed, divorce should be granted.

          Article 26, If the spouse of a member of the armed forces on active service insists on divorce, consent must be obtained from the member concerned.

          Article 27, The husband is not allowed to apply for a divorce when his wife is pregnant or within one year after the birth of a child. This restriction does not apply in the case of the wife applying for divorce, or when the people's court deems it absolutely necessary to agree to deal with a divorce application by the husband.

          Article 28, After divorce, if both parties desire to resume husband-and-wife relations, they should apply to the marriage registration office for registration of remarriage. The marriage registration office should accept such registration.

           Article 29, The blood ties between parents and children are not ended by the divorce of the parents. Whether the father or the mother has custody of the children, they remain the children of both parties. After divorce, both parents continue to have the right and duty to rear and educate their children. The guiding principle after divorce is to allow the mother to have custody of a breastfed infant. If a dispute arises between the two parties over the guardianship of a child after weaning and agreement cannot be reached, the people's court should make a judgment in accordance with the rights and interests of the child and the circumstances of both parties.

           Article 30 If, after divorce, one party is given custody of a child, the other party is responsible for part or all of the necessary cost of the maintenance and education of the child. The two parties should reach an agreement regarding the amount of the cost and the duration of its payment for such maintenance and education. If such an agreement is lacking, the people's court should make a judgment. An agreement reached between parents or a judgment made by the people's court in connection with the cost of the maintenance and education of a child does not obstruct the child from making a reasonable request were necessary for either parent to increase the amount decided upon by agreement or by judicial decision.

          Article 31, In the case of divorce, the disposal of the property in the joint possession of husband and wife is subject to agreement between the two parties. In cases where agreement cannot be reached, the people's court should make a judgment after taking into consideration the actual state of the family property and the rights and interests of the wife and the child or children.

          Article 32, In cases of divorce, debts incurred jointly by husband and wife during the period of their married life should be paid off out of their joint property. In cases where such property is insufficient to pay off such debts, the two parties should work out an agreement with regard to the payment; if an agreement cannot be reached, the people's court should make a judgment. Debts incurred separately by the husband or wife should be paid off by the party responsible. Article 33 In case of divorce, if one party has maintenance difficulties, the other party should render appropriate financial assistance. Both parties should work out an agreement with regard to the details; in case an agreement cannot be reached, the people's court should make a judgment.


Chapter 5 By-laws:

          Article 34, Persons violating this law shall be subject to administrative disciplinary measures or legal sanctions according to law and the circumstances.

          Article 35, In cases where the relevant party refuses to execute judgments or rulings regarding maintenance, costs of upbringing or support, or regarding the division or inheritance of property, the people's court has the power to enforce their execution in accordance with the law. The organizations concerned have the duty to assist such execution.

          Article 36, The people's congresses and their standing committees in national autonomous areas may enact certain modifications or supplementary articles in keeping with the principles of this law and in conformity with the actual conditions prevailing among the minority nationalities of the locality in regard to marriage and family relations. But such provisions enacted by autonomous prefectures and autonomous counties must be submitted to the standing committee of the provincial or regional people's congress for ratification. Pro- visions enacted by autonomous regions must be submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for the record.

          Article 37 This law comes into force from January 1, 1981. The Marriage Law of the People's Republic of China promulgated on May 1, 1950, shall be repealed as of the date of the coming into force of this law.



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