Top court strips mistresses of rights

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Global Times, November 17, 2010
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The Supreme People's Court of China released a significantly different interpretation of the marriage law with the hopes of clarifying some controversial issues surrounding property rights, children and even the thorny issue of mistresses.

The latest interpretation of the nation's marriage law was proposed by the court Monday and addressed the subject of extramarital affairs. It said a mistress should have no legal right to demand compensation if either party ended the relationship.

For example, if a married man promised to pay his secret lover in the event he dumps her, she would have no legal grounds to file a lawsuit if the man changed his mind.

"This issue about the third party is addressed by law for the first time, and it aims to safeguard the sanctity of marriage," Li Hongxiang, a professor at the School of Law at Jilin University, told the Global Times Tuesday.

The interpretation also touched on real estate ownership after a divorce.

It is now clear that if one person pays the down payment, obtains the loan under his or her name and registers the home under his or her name before the marriage, that person would be entitled to keep the house after a divorce.

The mortgage would become his or her personal debt.

The interpretation also said homes registered under a divorced party's name, but purchased by their parents, will now be considered his or her property and not the parents'.

Some experts felt this new description would dispel fears that young couples have about jumping into marriage and losing property after a divorce.

Li told the Global Times that it's the first court paper that touched on the property issue since mortgages became more common in China.

"While more people purchase homes with a mortgage and both parties contribute to the monthly payment, the fight over property during a divorce is a huge problem with no legal context," Li said.

The right to bear children was another controversial issue in the current Marriage Law since there was no specific rule.

The new interpretation said the court should allow couples to get divorced when one spouse is unable to have children.

Furthermore, if a woman terminates a pregnancy without the husband's permission, the court would not support the husband's request for compensation.

Some judges welcomed the change. In many cases, wives have suffered from domestic violence or neglect but were unable to get a divorce.

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