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How to Divorce in China?

In China, methods for divorce include divorce by registration and divorce by litigation.

Divorce by registration refers to the situation where the spouses both intend to get divorced voluntarily and apply for divorce registration in person to the marriage registration authority.

Divorce by litigation refers to the situation where while one party requests a divorce and the other party refuses to divorce, the party that requests the divorce may brings a lawsuit to the court. If the court considers that there is an irretrievable breakdown of marriage, the divorce shall be granted.

The marriage shall be dissolved as soon as the divorce registration is completed by the marriage registration authority, or the divorce judgment is rendered by the court or mediation agreement comes into effect.

The procedures for divorce by registration are as follows:

  1. The husband and wife sign a written divorce agreement, which stipulates the property distribution and the custody rights agreed by the parties.
  2. Both husband and wife apply for registering the divorce in person.
  3. Neither of the husband and wife withdraws the divorce application within 30 days (“cooling-off period”) after the marriage registration authority receives the application for the divorce application.
  4. Within 30 days upon the expiration of the cooling-off period, both husband and wife shall go to the marriage registration authority again to apply for the divorce certificate in person.
  5. If the marriage registration authority certifies that both parties apply for the divorce voluntarily, the divorce shall be successfully registered and the divorce certificate shall be issued.

The requirements for divorce by litigation are as follows:

  1. either spouse is subject to bigamy or cohabitation with others;
  2. either spouse commits domestic violence, maltreats or abandons his/her family members;
  3. either spouse indulges in bad habits, such as gambling, drug abuse even after repeated persuasion;
  4. the couple lives apart for two years because of emotional discord; and
  5. other situations leading to the breakdown of the couples relationship.

In addition, in order to protect women and soldiers, divorce is subject to the following restrictions:

  1. the husband shall not apply for a divorce when the wife is pregnant or within one year after the birth of the child or six months after the termination of gestation, unless the divorce application is raised by the wife; and
  2. if the spouse of a soldier in active service requests to divorce, the consent of the soldier shall be obtained.



Civil Code of China: Part V Marriage and Family (2020): Article 1076, 1078, 1079,  1080, 1081, 1082


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Contributors: CJO Staff Contributors Team

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