China’s court gives clarification over property disputes.

China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC) gave a judicial explanation over the settlement of property disputes following an increasing number of divorce cases and has sparked a hot debate amongst the public.

According to the explanation, a house bought by parents and registered under their child’s name remains the personal property of the child after the child marries. It means their spouse will not become co-owner of the property. The SPC spokesman Sun Jungong said “that the explanation was issued after considering the views of nearly 10,000 people”. “People who buy their children homes used to worry that their children’s divorces could result in the loss of family property”

With soaring house prices and lack of available properties, houses have become very lucrative and with an increased level of divorces  many divorcing couples have lengthy contested hearings as they seek to argue for a share of ownership.

Many people have applauded the situation saying it is in line with China’s real situation and social convention. It is hoped it will help couples resolve matters more quickly and easily.

Others have sought to question the guidance, but it would appear to have been partially resolved as the SPC have said that “if a couples parents purchase a property for the couple and the marriage ends in divorce the property shall be split according to each sides contribution” Where one party owns a property prior to marriage with a mortgage “the court should give reasonable consideration and compensation for the other party’s contribution to mortgage payments and to the appreciation of the house”

This may mean that there is no need for prenuptial agreements between couples given the clear guidance given by the SPC. At home in the UK we have no such guidance and the court will have regard to section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 and the needs of the parties when making it’s decision.

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