China Court: Spouses 'Cannot File For Divorce' Despite Catching Partners Cheating

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Married couples in China who cite “adultery” or cheating as a reason for breaking up can no longer file for divorce, a provincial court has ruled.

In an article posted Sunday, a court in Shandong province argued that a married person cannot use cheating as a reason for divorce as most people engaged in affairs do not live with their lovers, which fails to meet the country’s “cohabitation” standard.

“When a married person is caught cheating, their behavior is not cohabitation as long as they do not live with the lover for a long, steady period, so their spouses cannot file for divorce for this reason,” the Shandong Provincial High Court of the Communist Party of China said in an article posted on its WeChat account, as first reported by the South China Morning Post.

The Shandong court also ruled that spouses cannot use their partners’ affair as a reason to request compensation for damages. 

“In other words, if you have evidence that your spouse got a room with someone of the opposite gender, you cannot file for a divorce because this is not long cohabitation,” the court added.

The article has since been taken down from the account following a heavy public backlash. 

The controversial ruling comes a year after China passed a law that forced couples to observe a month-long “cooling-off period” before they file a divorce. The law was believed to give the partners time to repair their relationship. 

If couples do not reconcile by the end of the 30-day cooling-off period, only then would they be allowed to go to the civil affairs department to finalize their divorce. However, if one party has second thoughts about the divorce, the application will become invalid and a new 30-day cooling-off period will start.

The cooling-off law does not apply to divorces that involve domestic violence, family abuse and drug use. 

The “cooling-off” law led to 70% fewer divorces in early 2021, with only 296,000 divorces registered in last year’s first quarter. In comparison, there were 1.06 million divorces recorded in the final quarter of 2020, statistics released by China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs showed.

China Mobile was removed from the New York Stock Exchange following an executive order by former president Donald Trump
China Mobile was removed from the New York Stock Exchange following an executive order by former president Donald Trump
Photo: AFP

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