law insider official logo news

Chinese court orders man to pay ex-wife $7,700 for housework in landmark divorce case

Sushree Mohanty

A court in China has passed a verdict in which it has directed a man to pay thousands of dollars in compensation to his former wife for the household work she did during their five-year marriage.

The ruling came in a landmark divorce case and has started a debate in the country over the importance and value of unpaid household works.

Wang, a homemaker, demanded compensation amounting to $24,700 from her husband after he petitioned for legal separation at a district court in Beijing in October.

As per the reports of the state-run China National Radio (CNR), Wang submitted that she was left to deal with the couple’s children and housework alone, as her husband “barely thought about or took an interest in any sort of domestic tasks”.

In its decision, the court directed the husband to pay Wang around $7,700 as “housework pay,” in the wake of dividing their joint property equally. Wang was likewise granted the custody of their child and $300 each month in divorce settlement.

The decision is the first of its kind under China’s new civil code, a wide-authoritative set of rules that the Chinese government and legal experts say will better secure the rights of people.

The rule which has been implemented since January, incorporates a proviso empowering a partner to seek for remuneration from their spouse during divorce for fulfilling greater duty and carrying more responsibility in raising their children or caring for the older family members.

The decision, which was first posted on social media Weibo (A twitter like Social Networking Site) by the local media in February, turned into a trending topic after a hashtag was made to draw attention of individuals to the court’s verdict. As of present, the hashtag has been visited 00 million times.

While a few remarks commended the decision as an acknowledgment of the hard, unpaid work at home, others said the sum granted was too little to compensate for five years of housework and childcare.

Inequality and discrimination in gender have been a subject of public discussion in China lately in the midst of a rising feminist campaigns and development.

Regardless of expanding education levels and developing financial status of woman the patriarchal standards have not found enough changes, and women are still expected to take the responsibility for upbringing the child and doing household duties.

According to the legal advisors, Housework compensation is intended to offer assurance to the spouse who has taken more household duties and have sacrificed their profession or education.

The right to demand for housework compensation in divorce procedures is not a new idea in Chinese law.

In 2001, housework compensation was added to an amendment of China’s marriage law with the precondition that it is applied to couples who consented to division of property, in which every companion holds selective responsibility for the property obtained during the marriage.

In actual practice, very few Chinese couples have agreed to keep their property independent, so it’s uncommon for divorced couples to fit in the requirements to claim the remuneration.

“According to our survey, only 3% to 5% of couples in our country implement the separation of property,” Xia Yinlan, a professor in marriage law at the Chinese University of Political Science and Law stated.

 “That’s why the precondition was scrapped in China’s new civil code”, she added.

On Weibo, numerous subscribers communicated their frustration that Wang was  granted  only $7,700 after she devoted five years of her life to dealing with her family, particularly in the Chinese capital – where the typical cost for basic items and pay levels are among the most elevated in the country.

“I’m a bit speechless. I feel that the job of a full-time housewife has been underestimated. In Beijing, hiring a nanny would cost more than 50,000 yuan per year,” read a comment under China National Radio ‘s report.

China’s marriage rate has been plunging since 2013. As per the reports of China’s National Bureau of Statistics, in only six years, the quantity of Chinese individuals getting married for the first time has fallen by 41%.

However, the divorce cases have almost multiple times in the previous thirty years. As per government data, there were 0.69 divorce pleas per thousand individuals in 1990. By 2019, the most figures indicated a 3.36 mark.

Feng Miao, the judge presiding over the matter stated that the amount of remuneration in this decision was estimated dependent on various reasons including the husband’s income and the average cost for basic items in the Chinese capital.

Since the new civil code is currently in force, she said that she expects more cases demanding housework compensation to be registered in near future.

“But in practice, we still need to accumulate experience in how to meter out the amount of compensation,” she added.

Read more: India-China agrees to disengage from the North and South Bank Areas of Pangong Lake