Getting divorced outside China
Nov 01, 2011

Getting divorced outside China

We are talking about divorces where the parties get married in China, or one party is a Chinese national or the marital properties (for instance a house or apartment) locate in China, or otherwise a China element is involved. Such foreign-related divorces are very complicated matter when they have to be solved in court. Since a China element is involved, it will be advisable for concerned parties to understand some of the laws of China in this regard.

I  Where should I go to court for a divorce? China or my residing country?

When the couple cannot agree on terms of divorce, they will have to go to court to get divorced. But which court to go?

Generally speaking, China allows couple living abroad (USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and so on) to get divorced in the court of the foreign state where they reside even though the couple (two Chinese nationals, or one Chinese national and a foreign citizen) gets married in China, unless the court in their residing country decides otherwise. You don’t have to come back to China in order to legally terminate the marriage union.

II  Can the court in my residing country divide and distribute the marital properties/debts?

While China allows a couple to divorce through a foreign court judgment, it basically means that China may recognize the dissolution of marriage as given effect to by foreign court judgment, but it does not mean China may also recognize the contents in the foreign judgment regarding the division and distribution of marital properties/assets and/or debts, children custody.

Though, theoretically speaking, a foreign court may apply Chinese laws to divide and distribute properties and debts accumulated during the course of marriage, China is still not yet ready to recognize such decisions by foreign courts. Notwithstanding that China supreme court has issued an interpretation guiding the recognition of divorce judgment made by foreign courts, it has also made it clear therein that these guiding rules do not apply to recognition of foreign divorce judgment in respect of division and distribution of marital properties and children custody.

In particular, it is worthy of note that China Civil Procedures Law has made it explicit that disputes arising from or in relation to real estate/real properties shall only be resolved in the court in the place of the real estate. In the case of dividing real estate/house/apartment in a divorce case, the foreign court shall not have jurisdiction over such issue. Any decision made by foreign courts will be deemed as null and void. In other words, the couple will have to come to China (or entrust a Chinese lawyer to represent you) to settle the dispute in the local court.

In summary, the couple may litigate in the foreign court to end their marriage relationship, but they will have to have their marital assets that are within China divided in a Chinese court in accordance with Chinese laws (not necessarily in accordance with Chinese laws in the case of marital properties other than real property).

III  Does China recognize the judgment entered by a foreign court? How?

Though China generally does not recognize foreign court judgments, the only exception is for divorce judgments delivered by foreign courts. China has issued judicial guidelines on procedures for recognizing a foreign divorce judgment.

As mentioned above, such recognition is to recognize the ending of the marriage legal relationship only and it is not to recognize judgments concerning marital property distribution or children custody.

Without recognition proceeding, the foreign court judgment does not mean anything in China.

Application for recognizing foreign divorce judgment shall be submitted to local intermediary court in the (original) place of residence place of the applicant.

In most cases, such recognition proceeding is initiated by a Chinese national. However, foreign nationals are also allowed to start the recognition process if the other party is a Chinese national.

If you want to know more information about this subject matter, please contact the author of this article, Jason Tian, at his emails and phones set out at the top right corner of this page.


  1. Tiffany says:

    Hi Jason,

    Me and my husband got married in China, and he provided our marriage certificate to the USCIS to add me as a depandent applicant to his green card process, and then we got the green card at the same time. Now we aggreed to get divoced, since we are still in china, in which country would it be better to get divorced? If we get divorced in China, do we need to provide anything to get married again in the US?


    1. Jason Tian says:

      well, Tiffany, which country will be better for you to divorce depends on the laws. Since you and your husband are still Chinese citizens, and you have been living in China so far, it is most likely that China courts will apply Chinese laws to your divorce and division of your martial assets. However you may choose to divorce in US where you are supposed to permanently reside, that state law will govern the divorce and division of marital properties, you will need to compare the benefits under the two different laws and see which is better for you. You may need to consult both Chinese lawyer and American lawyer in that state to fully understand your situation.

  2. Pandalove says:

    Hi Jason, I am a EU citizen, married to a Chinese person. We would like to have a divorce, but couldn’t reach an agreement regarding a property in my country. I have been living in my country since the beginning of the pandemic, and my spouse have not been here for 5 years now. He is living in China with his new partner. Can the Chinese court make a decision about that that would be legally binding in the EU? Some other aspects are, that in a written form he admitted emotional abuse against me, and he stopped working and refused all jobs after we put down the first payment for this apartment. Would these be considered by court, and could I sue him for emotional damage as part of the whole process, if he files for divorce?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      hi Pandalove, well in most cases, China courts decsions are not enforceable in most European countries, but France is an exception as it has a bilateral treaty with China on enforcing court documents from the other country. In practice, China courts are not willing to deal with properties in foreign countries. why not initiate divorce proceeding first in your own country if the result is favorable to you? Do you have kids? If not, then he may not be easily able to obtain a court judgment in China in his favour. Emotional abuse/distress is not a legal ground in China for claiming damages.

      1. Pandalove says:

        He wants to stop negotiating (which we started only this year) and threatened to “sue me” in Chinese court. That is why I wanted to know if the Chinese court would even take this case. It is possible he is bluffing to intimidate me. I am also not sure if he is allowed to have a part of a foreign property since he never lived abroad. There is no child involved and we don’t have any other assets to talk about. In my own country I can’t divorce him unless he comes here unfortunately.

        1. Jason Tian says:

          HI Pandalove, China courts will surely take the divorce case, but whether the court will deal with that property is not that sure. As said in many cases, China couts won’t deal with foreign properties. You don’t have to passively wait for him to take action, you can also initiate the divorce proceeding in China to divorce him. We can help you on this if you want to do this.

      2. Pandalove says:

        Thank you Jason, we do not have any children. The problem is that in my country he would need to appear in person in order to have a divorce, and other than that, he is not open to doing it anywhere else, but China. He is telling me he will sue me in China for the property in the EU, that is why I wanted to know if it is a real threat, or he just tries to intimidate me, so that I just comply with all his claims. Other than that, he never lived or stayed in the EU, I do not know if this is something that would be taken into consideration in China. (In my country this would also have an influence on how the case is judged.)

        1. Jason Tian says:

          you have not told me which country you come from. Except for France, he has no chance to enforce a China court judgment in most other European countries.

  3. Kelton Pfeffer says:

    divorce rates in canada is a reflection of the evolving dynamics in modern relationships. It’s essential for society to support initiatives that promote healthy communication skills and emotional intelligence to strengthen marriages.

  4. W says:

    Hi Jason,

    I am a Swedish citizen and live in Sweden.
    My spouse is a Chinese citizen and she lives in China.

    We got married in Yantai in 2021.
    But we never moved to Sweden together as planned.

    We have verbally agreed to divorce.
    I have consulted the Swedish court, and they say we can get legally divorced in the Swedish court.
    However, I am not sure how to get it recognized in China, so our marital records are corrected, and are changed to divorced status.
    And she is ok with this, since it will be easier to both, no need to have additional expenses from travel and a lengthy process, etc.

    Is it possible?
    To get divorced outside China, and get the divorce judgment legally recognized in China.

    What is the procedure?
    And are the procedures same/similar nationwide?

    Are there any written legal article/reference? In Chinese Law

    1. Jason Tian says:

      replied in email. Thanks for leaving comment here.

  5. Yaqi says:

    Hi Jason,
    I am a Chinese citizen that married a Canadian and am now a Permanent Resident in Canada.

    My husband is a Canadian citizen and now lives in China full time, while I am in Canada.

    We have been separated for a long time and I wish to divorce in Canada- do you know if the Chinese government would be notified about this?

    I don’t want to effect my ex husbands status staying in China long term, as his business is there and I still care about his success.

    Thank you

    1. Jason Tian says:

      hi Yaqi,your divorce in Canada won’t be notified to China govenrment if you don’t do it.

  6. Markus Christ says:

    Dear Jason,

    My chineese wife and myself got married in 2008 in Hangzhou. I am German National.
    We both live now in Malaysia.
    Can we get Divorced in Malaysia or need to get divorced in China ?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      hi Markus, whether you can divorce in Malaysia is a matter of Malaysian law, so consult a Malaysian lawyer. In any case, if you wish to divorce in China, that is possible despite that you have lived outside China for long.

  7. Corine Harris says:

    I heartily impressed by your blog and learn more from your article. Thank you so much for sharing with us. Here is the best solution. If you want to look please visit here Tips for Uncontested Divorce . Here another informative post.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      If ok, we can exchange some links in posts. Be happy to do anything mutually beneficial.

  8. arthur brogard says:

    One Australian man, a Chinese woman, living in Australia, both now Australian citizens – married eighteen years ago in China.

    How can they now divorce?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Both are now Australian citizens and living there, i am sure they can now divorce in Australia. That said, since you were married in China, it is likely that Chinese courts will exercise jurisdiction over the case as well. So far as I know from my past experience, it is more straightforward to divorce in Australia than in China, if the parties are now at odds.

  9. Jacob says:

    Hello, I have a question. If I marry a Chinese woman in China and my permanent resident is in Cyprus, if we get divorced in Cyprus will Cyprus law for divorce will take in place or China’s law?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      If you divorce in Cyprus, then Cyrus law will apply, not China laws. However, if you have assets in China that needs to be split, then you will have to come to China to split under Chinese laws.

  10. Edward Dale says:

    Hi Jason
    I was married in Nanning, China, in 2008 and have lost my marriage book.
    We have since separated and I am a Canadian Citizen.
    How do I go about getting a replacement certified marriage certificate to file for divorce in Canada?
    Thank you

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Edward, you should be able to obtain a certified paper indicating your marriage from the local civil affairs department where you registered your marriage in China.

      1. Max says:

        Hi jason
        Am from pakiatan and i got married in china 2 years ago. After that me and my chinese wife come to pakistan and lived here for ine year and then she went back .now am in pakistan and she is in china . How can get divorce in this situation specially i dont have her contact and she has changed her home etc ..

  11. James says:

    Hi Jason,
    Very insightful and helpful blog you have! My ex-wife and I were both originally from Shanghai and got our marriage registered in Shanghai in 2003. Then we moved overseas and we are now both Canadian Citizens, and live in Toronto/Canada. We filed divorce in 2016 in Toronto and got our court order so legally divorced.
    Last week she contacted me and asked when I will be in China because she wants to be there so we can get our divorce recognized (and notarized) in Shanghai. I told her that it’s totally unnecessary, as we don’t have Chinese citizenship, nor Chinese residency, nor that we have any mutual financial properties in China. So, we don’t have to have our divorce recognized by Chinese court.
    Am I correct in my statement? Will there be any potential problem for either her or myself? let’s say if she wants to get married again with a Chinese national?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      if she wants to marry someone in China, then she needs to clear her marital records in China by applying to China court for recognition of the Canadian court divorce judgment.

      1. James says:

        Thanks Jason for your reply. One more question regarding inheritance. I’m the only child of our parents, who are living in Shanghai. If let’s say my parents decide to sell their house and move to Nursing Home, for my inheritance purpose, do I need to get Chinese court to get recognized for my divorce and therefore Single marital status in order to fully inherit my parents’ house, as a foreign citizen, and, without any potential financial claim from my ex wife?

        1. Jason Tian says:

          better have it recognized to rule out any possibility of her claim.

  12. Shenlen says:

    Hello Jason,

    At 2010 i’ve met a Chinese lady through the internet, she was from Changchun. (Btw i am from Turkey). After a year chatting each other on the internet finally i went to China on 2011 and we got married there in Changchun. I’ve presented our official marriage certificate and papers to Turkish embassy which is located in Beijing so they approved our marriage for Turkey too. And then we both back to Turkey for living here.

    A year later we started to having problems. By time small problems became bigger and she decided to breaking up with me. She back to China on 2012. I thought we will find a way to solve our problems and get back together again but it didnt happened as i expected. On 2014 she filed a divorcing lawsuit in China Changchun against me and i’ve received the first petition about that she wants to divorce from Chinese court. Then i moved to another place and didnt get the final petition about the end of case but i assume Chinese court already divorced us there and she is free now.

    Afterwards i’ve filed a divorce lawsuit in Turkey and our petitions kept coming back to us because she also changed her address. She is gone missing completely, she has changed her phone number, e-mails, address and everything that i can reach her. Since 2014 court tried to send her petitions many times but all failed. Finally court decided make notification by newspaper but Chinese government refused that request and they said its not possible for China.

    I have no contact with her since 2012 and she already got divorced on 2014 but i am still in married status in my own country and my hands tied up since then until now. I dont know what to do really. Please give me a hope.

    Thank you in advance.


    1. Jason Tian says:

      ok, pls ask your lawyer in Turkey whether it is possible for Turkey court to recognize Chinese court divorce judgment? If it is possible, then you should try to find out the China court judgment and have it recognized in Turkey.

      1. Shenlen says:

        Hi Jason,

        Thank you for your kind approach and help. We’ve already considered that but Turkish court ask for the final result of China court judgement result and as i’ve mentioned above we’ve never received that. Even if we get that court said still they should inform my wife about the divorce with a petition after they recognize China court judgment, otwherwise there is no any possible way to divorce us.


        1. Jason Tian says:

          so the problem is to know her whereabouts. the China court final judgment should not be a problem as you can ask the court for a copy or certified true copy. If the Turkey court still needs to serve document on her, then i am not sure how you can get it done without knowing here whereabouts. Maybe you should try to sue her for something in Changchun so she will show up. Otherwise, I don’t have any good advice for you.

  13. Nabila says:

    Hey Jason
    I’m married in Algeria but my husband and I do t deal but he doesn’t want to divorce, I have a chinese boyfriend we want t to marry, and my question is; will the Chinese government recognize my foreign marriage?

  14. Dave says:

    Hey Jason, great blog. Super helpful. My wife is from Shanghai and I am from US. We got married in China in 2002, moved back to US in 2007, and she became a citizen in 2009. We are now getting divorced in Texas court, dividing all US-based assets 50/50. I have primary custody of our 2 kids.

    In 2014 my wife went back to Shanghai while her parents sold their old home and bought a new home. For the new home, they added my wife’s name to the deed. I provided her with a power of attorney as husband so she could gain the property, although all funds to purchase the property were provided by her parents. When I visited in 2015, her parents said that this 1/3 portion of their home was meant for her and me, and our two children.

    Now during our divorce in Texas, I read that Chinese real estate division must be handled in a Chinese court. Chinese court will not recognize US divorce decrees or agreements.

    In this case, will I have any claim on the Chinese real estate, according to Chinese law? It does not have my name on the deed, but it does have my wife’s name on the deed, acquired during our marriage, but paid for by her parents, but they did say it was a gift in part to me. I plan to just let my wife (ex-wife) file any Chinese paperwork necessary to get the divorce recognized in China without trying to pursue any claim on the real estate, but I’d like to know if I even have any rights to speak of in this case.

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Dave, I want to correct my previous reply. The rule I mentioned a moment ago applies to domestic divorce settings. In your case, you and your wife are now both American citizens and both live in the same area (true or not). then the legal rules governing the marital properties shall be the rules of the place where you have the common habitual residence or absent which, the rules of the common nationality shall govern which again is the state laws in USA.

      So if you come to China court for splitting the property in China, then you should consult your local attorney on whether you will be entitled to any share in the property that was bought with the funds of your wife’s parents. My basic understanding of American general rules (pls note I am not qualified American lawyer, and don’t take this as a formal legal advice) is that the purchase by the parents is essentially a gift from the parents to the daughter only (as registered only in her name), and a gift is generally viewed as personal separate property of the wife. So the result is the same. But I strongly suggest that you consult your attorneys in USA to clarify.

      1. Dave says:

        Thanks Jason. That makes sense. We both live in Texas, still in the same town, though she moved to an apartment 6 months ago. Your statement of the US law is generally correct. The only additional info is that my wife’s parents told me many times “this house is NOT just for our daughter, it is for you too! We consider you our son.” But the financial headache of putting an american name on a Chinese real estate registration was something we avoided at the time, and I didn’t make an issue because I was afraid of my wife’s temper. She did NOT want my name on it, despite what her parents said. They are afraid of her as well. So regardless of their intent, it looks like because my name is not on the property, I will not be able to claim any portion of it in a divorce, even though they told me directly it was a gift. And now that I have their only grandchildren in my custody, I’m pretty sure they would still agree that they meant to gift the house to me (and my children), although they might not do so in court.

        1. Jason Tian says:

          Good to hear that the parents are nice to you. Ok, if the parents won’t testify against the daughter’s claim, then you may have no way to take any interests from the property in China. If you wish, you may want to get the parents to acknowledge in some way that may be used in your favor.

    2. Anita says:

      Hi Dave. I came across this. I have a friend who is in a similar situation, now residing in Texas as well. I would like to get some help from you. Do you mind connect with me? [email protected]

  15. Julie says:


    I’m canadian and my husband is chinese. We both want a divorse and we don’t have kids or property. I’m 25 he is 29. Our marriage isn’t recognize by canada. How can we divorse without me going back to china?

    We marry in 2014 and we were together in the same country 6 month. We “broke up” after 4 years of relationship. I asked for citizenship but cancel it after because we broke up.

  16. Julian says:

    Hi Jason,

    Me and my wife marry in XinJiang since she is from XinJiang. But after 4months marry she decided divorce with no reason.

    Now she is working in GuangZhou more than a years (maybe 2 years+)

    Would like to know can I divorce with her without going back to China ? or can I divorce in GuangZhou ? or I must go back to XinJiang to divorce ?

    If I don’t divorce with her, is that any issues to me in my country ?

    Thank you.

  17. Rachel Feng says:

    Hi Jason,

    I am from China and went to Australia as student back in 2008, and then I got married to my ex bf who is a New Zealand citizen that moved to Australia with family when he was 9. We got in Australia in Sept.2009. But it only lasted 3+ months and we got separated. I came back to China in Feb.2010 and then he also came to China for teaching in May in the same year. We’re not in same city and never meet each other again. I attempt to apply for divorce several times to the family court in Australia but was told that one of us must be Australia citizen or live in Australia for at least 12 months to be qualified to apply for a divorce. It has been almost 7 years after separation, now I’m 27 and planning to get married again, but I still hope there is a way to get divorced in Australia instead of China because I do not want to leave a record here in China. I only now contact my so called husband online and we both want a divorce, but he does not want to leave China. In this case, I want to know if there is any possibility I can withdraw this marriage in Australia or outside of China. I have been trying very hard to find a way, your help is very appreciated!!

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Rachel, my understanding is that you may have to conduct divorce in either Australian, New Zealand or China because of the citizenship and place of marriage and place of domicile.

      That said, After Australian failed you, you can only consider China and New Zealand.

      well, you didn’t register your marriage in China, a court divorce proceeding in China does not leave you written record except in the court.

  18. Stiella says:

    Hi Jason,

    Even though after I read many articles about property splits after marriage dissolved, I am still not very sure how I can protect my interests in it.

    I am a Malaysian married a Chinese national in Kunming. We were together several years before legally married in Nov 2010, in both countries. Now, he wants to break with me and he offers NOT even a cent to me. We have no child but he has several apartments all under his names. One during our courtship years, one after our marriage. He has quite steady income. I have a good job in Malaysia that’s why I am back to work after three-year unpaid leave to be with him. This is an arrangement we both agreed on for time being. My last visit to him in Kunming was in April 2016.

    His decision to leave me really hurts me. I want to know if i can get something from his property? or some compensation in those years I was on unpaid leave, without income but pains from looking after his well being and his mum who is blind?

    If I need to engage a lawyer in Kunming, where to look for? Thank you.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Stiella, when you say you were legally married in China as well back in Nov 2010, what do you mean? You register your marriage with China government department?

      you will only be entitled to split his properties bought or other assets acquired after marriage. That is the rule here.

      You will have to look for a lawyer to work for you. You may have difficulty in finding a lawyer in Kunming who can speak English. While I can help you, the distance between Kunming and Shanghai means you will need to pay extra travel cost.

      Send me emails to my email accounts and let us talk more about it.

  19. George says:

    Hi Jason,
    I’m German working in China and want to marry my Chinese fiancé. Some years ago she got divorced in Japan (mutual agreement – divorce certificate is already legalized by the Chinese Embassy in Japan) after prior marriage with a Japanese man in Changchun, Jilin province, her home province. We are preparing now all the certificates needed for Germany.
    The first problem is that we don’t know how and where to get approval of the divorce in Japan by the Chinese government. Government is not helping and everyone she asked so far in government (Changchun and lower level) is refusing. Maybe this needs a specific paper application at the right place and maybe need lawyer for support (which we also can’t find so far)?
    The next problem is to get the single paper; local government people don’t know how to do, maybe because of the divorce in Japan. Where and how to do? It also seems that the provincial level system in Changchun is different than the system used at lower level government. But maybe we have to solve first the divorce approval.
    We also already presented to Waiban a law-firm prepared translation to German of the divorce certificate but they refused to legalize because it’s a Japanese document.
    I would appreciate very much any comment or help,
    Thank you

    1. Jason Tian says:

      George, she got married in Changchun, China but got divorced in Japan by agreement? I don’t understand how the Japanese divorce proceeding worked. It seemed strange to me how they can divorce through agreement in Japan. It the Japanese divorce was done through court, then she needs to apply to Chinese court for recognizing the court document they obtained. Otherwise, I don’t see any way around except that they came to China to register their divorce in China civil affair department again or she may have to sue to divorce again in China court in order to make her divorce valid in China.

      The second question is depending on the answer of the first question.

    2. Georg says:

      Hi, thank you for reply immediately. The Japanese divorce paper is an official court paper. Most Japanese couples get divorced by agreement. The question now is, because government people not helping, where to apply for approval of the divorce certificate and is there a form to use for the application?

      1. Jason Tian says:

        if it is a court paper, you need to hire a China lawyer to help you to apply to Chinese court to recognize that court document and then she is back to being single again.

  20. Chen says:

    Hello, thanks for the article. My wife and I were PRC citizens and married in China. I later moved to Singapore and became a PR, and filed for divorce in Singapore, which also granted me custody of my son. This was almost ten years ago and my son and I are now citizens of Singapore. But now, my wife is back and demanding custody of my son. Since I am now a citizen of Singapore, is my custody binding even though the proceedings were not filed in China? Thank you.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Singaporean court judgment is for sure binding on both of you in respect of the custody of the China. She can only sue to change the custody if she has any valid ground for doing so. Otherwise, she has no way to change the status quo.

      She may also sue you in China but that does not seem any useful to her at all.

  21. Roy says:

    Hi Jason,

    I and a Chinese lady from Nanning married in China last year in August. We have not lived together even for one week after the wedding because i was on holiday visa. I came back to Australia.

    In November last year we verbally agreed to breakup. However divorce hasnt been filed sincw we were in different countries.

    Sometime laster ive met another lady. And now we want to marry in Asutralia.

    When i speak to my ex. She sayd she wants divorce but she is too vusy in thailand. She cant do it now.

    She keeps saying she wants divorce but she cannot come back to china to do it.

    I even said i would pay her her flight tickets to and fro thailand.

    She said she cant come back to china for divorce.

    How can i divorce her so that both countries recognise that our marriage has ended?

    With regards,


    1. Jason Tian says:

      where do you register your marriage? you can either file a divorce case at her domicile place where her household registration is done, or her residing place in China where she has been living for up to a year. Once the divorce is done in China, then you are liberated.

      1. Roy says:

        We registered in China. She agrees for divorce but isnt meeting up. Can i do a sole application and sucessfully get divorced? What is the minimum to maximum time it will take?

        Because she is very firm that in China ,two people must be present at the same time for a divorce.

        (NOTE: we mever had properties under our name or any babies)

        1. Jason Tian says:

          given you are outside of China, if you go to court for a divorce and she agrees to divorce, then it is ok for the court to grant divorce in your absence (but with your lawyer being present in court). where is the city of your marriage registration?

          1. Roy says:

            Marruage city is Nanning. She dunt want to go to china alone to do divorce.

            I cant go to china either.

            Can i apply for divorce in Australia and to china office?

            Is there a way to get divorce in china without both of us being thete?

          2. Jason Tian says:

            you can hire a lawyer to represent you in kicking off the court proceeding, and then the court will summon her to appear. if she does wish to divorce you, then she should appear. No other way of doing the divorce.

  22. Cory says:


    I have a quick question. My wife and I got a divorce at the Sichuan Provincial Civil Affairs Department 2 weeks ago. I am in the US and my family hired lawyers to file the papers here. I spoke to the consulate in Chengdu before I left China and they told me that the papers that were given to me could be submitted to the courts here in the US. After returning, my lawyer doesn’t think that the paperwork will be excepted by the American courts as they need exemplified copies. Have you ever dealt with anything like this? My wife and I are on excellent terms so she is helping to finish this process for me. She will be signing the documents that my lawyer wrote up and mailing them back to me.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Cory,what do you mean by “exemplified copy”? I don’t know much about it. It is more an American law issue. Unless your American lawyer can make it clear to me, i just don’t know what I can do to help.

      1. Cory says:


        Thanks for replying to this post. My lawyer said that all the documents given to me by the civil affairs department were certified copies. Apparently I need documents that are more “official” than these, something issued by a court or something which in the US legal system are referred to as exemplified copies.

        1. Jason Tian says:

          Cory, please refer to a local lawyer in Chengdu, as I may not be in a good position to help you on this.

  23. Ge says:

    Hi Jason, I got married in Shanghai about 30 years ago, but I went overseas about 4 years after the marriage. I have been an Australian citizen for over 20 years now. I actually got divorced through the Australia court many years ago without notifying Chinese court. We have a marital property in China. My ex-wife now wants to sell it and she is the only listed owner for the property. But since our divorced status has not been recognized in China, she can’t do anything with it without my approval. I definitely don’t want any of the ownership of the property and I can hardly go back to China shortly. Is there anyway that I can get my divorce certificate as well as the property declaration recognized in China? Any suggestions? Thanks so much.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Ge, in practice, she can sell it without your consent if she is the only registered owner on the title deed. if you wish to have your divorce judgment in Australia recognized in Shanghai, we can help you to apply for the recognition of the Australian court judgment. Please note Chinese courts won’t recognize any judgment related to property allocation, child custody etc, only divorce itself.

      1. Ge says:

        Hi Jason, thanks for your efficient reply. So does it mean that if we want to deal with anything related to our marital property, I need to get it done in China or can I do it over the Consulate in Sydney? Otherwise, can you help me with the marital property, even when I’m in Australia?
        Thanks again, Ge.

      2. Ge says:

        Hi Jason. Thanks for your fast reply.
        I think I got something wrong in the previous statement. She needs to purchase the property from the government first as she hasn’t got the full ownership of the property yet. She wants me to authorise her to make the purchase and I’m willing to do it. It is confusing to me as I have divorced with her long time ago, but I need to be present to make the purchase with her as my name is still shown as a husband in China. If that’s the case, what should I do? Do I have to come back to China to take care of everything? Thanks again, Ge.

        1. Jason Tian says:

          Hi Mr. Ge, in that case, it is a bit complicated. Not sure whether the government will have to register you as an owner or can just register your wife’s name on the deed. If the latter, you may issue a POA to her to authorize her to carry out the deal with the government. You may have to think of applying or recognition of your divorce in China so as to avoid any other future trouble due to your marital status here.

  24. Alton Kees says:

    Good afternoon Mr. Tian,

    Thank you for your time and I appreciate any advise your may offer…..
    Looking back, I acknowledge I made some serious mistakes. I married a Chinese national in Shenyang, China on January 2015. I will spare you all the details of why a divorce is necessary.

    First, She always refused to provide me the address of her home in China. She would only provide me the address of her mother and father, but I am not 100% if this is correct. I have sent letters but none are ever acknowledged.

    Second, after months of her verbal and mental abuse, I told her that it was best if we divorced and that I would cancel the visa application with the USCIS.

    I have made many attempts to contact her by telephone, regular mail, electronic mail, Skype, WeChat and QQ. It has been over a year since I have spoken to her.

    How can I divorce her in China? What is the best option?

    Thank you for your help,

  25. Mike says:

    Hi Jason

    I am a US citizen and married a chinese girl in Anhaui in 2004. She has a US green card that expires soon. She lives in Shanghai and does not want to come back here. She has a chinese boy friend to which I found photos of them together. Now she has returned to the USA and wants money. We have a 10 y/o son who is a US citizen. What options do I have for divorce as she has been caught cheating and now she is trying to get money from me to go live in China with her Chinese boy friend. She is not concerned nor care about custody as I have been raising our son in the USA by my self. She just wants money.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Mike, you can divorce her in Shanghai if she has been living here in Shanghai for more than one year. As for child custody, given the fact that you have been raising the child by yourself in USA, it is very likely that the court will grant child custody do you. As for money, Chinese court won’t generally deal with assets outside of China. what asset do you have in China? if apartment or house in China? does she know how much money you have been making in the years? if you are ready to divorce her, we can help you to start the legal proceeding here.

  26. Ray says:


    Enjoyed reading your blog

    Can a Chinese citizen spouse sue in court a US citizen husband for out of wedlock child in China and if so, what is the punishment? jail time or monetary fine?
    we were married in China but been living in US for last 7 years


    1. Jason Tian says:

      Ray, this is a question you should seek help from American lawyers. I don’t practice American laws so not in a position to comment on this question.

      1. Ray says:


        I meant – can she sue / press imprisonment charge in China against me since both were married in China and the out of wedlock child in in China as she is a Chinese citizen and I am a US citizen both of us reside in US


  27. Ray says:


    I filed for divorced 5 months ago in California US and the final judgment should be complete by end of April. We settled all the agreement terms and monetary pay off on March 1 when we agreed to the divorced. Then she found out I have committed adultly in Shenzhen, China and with a 1 year old child just last week. She now demand more monetary. The original divorce agreed settlement excessed the amount she would able to get if we go to court. California is a no-fault state. I am a US citizen married in China 7 years ago and she moved to California 6 years ago and she is green card holder. Now she plan on going back to China next week to seek if she can either stop the divorce before the final judgment is granted here in California or sue me or even the other party I am involved with. Question is can she legally do these in China? We currently have 2 properties in Dongguan,China and I did agree to take my name of the deed after the divorce is finalized here in California ? But with the current situation I don’t know if its a good idea as my concern is she can appeal or sue me in China after my name is off those properties. We were married in Shantou China in 2008 with no children together

    1. Jason Tian says:

      She can file a new case in China to divorce you. No matter what judgment the American court will enter, she can still sue you in China. But the simple fact that you commit adultery won’t bring much benefit to you if she sue in China. In any case, you should wait to take your name off property deed after you finish divorce formality in China.

      1. Ray says:


        Thank you for you reply, she threaten to sue (monetary) and charge me with adultly and cohabitation in China court ( I understand these are really serious offense in China) She will plan on going back to China next week and mostly want to file charge in court or file for divorce and perhaps gather more evidences like the child birth certification from the hospital. can China mobile to release my phone record without a court order?- what are my max exposure to these charges as she only have evidence like some photo or baby but no photo of me and baby and She want imprisonment charges against me if I go back after the US divorce is finalized which maybe in about 1.5 months. Can she or the court get these evidences. I don’t have anything link to the other party IE bank account or property only the birth certification. I don’t have any bank account in China and only assets is the property with current wife and I agree to take me name off after the a final divorce recognized with China is signed. Lastly can she come back after all these is over and press charges or sue me in the near future as I just want this stressful situation to be over and not go through it again in 6 months or 1 year later after divorce judgment is over in US and China
        She is a US green card for the last 6 years holder and I am a US citizen both reside in US

        What will the max penalty I can face for imprisonment from court (fear she will charge and sue the other party) and monetary rewards for her as I will agree to sign off my name on the China property based on a signed divorce

        I really fear of entering China in fear of getting arrested on the border


  28. Ray says:

    Hi David,

    I filed for divorced 5 months ago in California US and the final judgment should be complete by end of April. We settled all the agreement terms and monetary pay off on March 1 when we agreed to the divorced. Then she found out I have committed adultly in Shenzhen, China and with a 1 year old child just last week. She now demand more monetary. The original divorce agreed settlement excessed the amount she would able to get if we go to court. California is a no-fault state. I am a US citizen married in China 7 years ago and she moved to California 6 years ago and she is green card holder. Now she plan on going back to China next week to seek if she can either stop the divorce before the final judgment is granted here in California or sue me or even the other party I am involved with. Question is can she legally do these in China? We currently have 2 properties in Dongguan,China and I did agree to take my name of the deed after the divorce is finalized here in California ? But with the current situation I don’t know if its a good idea as my concern is she can appeal or sue me in China after my name is off those properties. We were married in Shantou China in 2008 with no children together

  29. Reuben says:

    I was living in China and married a chinese woman and we lived back at home in the Uk a long time but have now been separated for nearly 4 years now. We dont have a marriage certificate though as it was lost long ago. Can we get divorced without one or how would we go about getting a replacement?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Reuben, you don’t have to have the marriage certificate as you can obtain your marriage proof from local civil affair department. Where did you get married in China? Are you saying you both now live in UK but separated. You may consider going to court in UK or file a divorce in the place in China where you got married. But if you both live in UK, it is better and convenient to divorce in UK, though in UK you will be subject to greater financial burden due to the alimony payment which is not supported in China.

      1. Reuben says:

        Yes we got married in China, in Shandong. Yes we both now live in the UK and are separated. Do you mean we can obtain marriage proof from the civil affair dep in china or in the UK?
        I intend to be divorced in the UK and it is amicable, and we have a child together who is jointly cared for.
        I was informed though that the marriage certificate would be needed to get divorced, is this not the case then?
        Thank you, Reuben.

        1. Jason Tian says:

          I cannot comment on UK court practice. You can obtain from civil affair department in China your marriage proof. Glad that your Chinese wife is able to have an amicable divorce with you. Many Chinese wives get really nasty in the process of divorce.

          1. Reuben says:


            Thank you, i will ask her to try and obtain this for us. Could you tell me what the civil affairs dep is called in Chinese and i can pass this on.
            A great help, thank you.

  30. darren says:

    I am a Malaysian and married with chinese wife in China 7 month ago. We were long distance couples till recently she came to Australia to stay together with me for 1 month and we both realised don’t work out and wish to divorce. After went back to China for divorce few week ago she suddenly changed her mind and wish to get back with me again. I have refused, now she suddenly show up at my front door and said she wish to continue or divorce and divide my assets. I can’t let her stay without shelter nor stop her staying here in Australia, I have offered her my place to stay till her visa expired (visiting visa for 1 year). If she going to sue and divide my assets in later days, would she be able to do so in Australia?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Darren, if you are asking what she can do in Australia, please talk to an Australian lawyer. As you have married only for 7 months, i don’t think she will have much to get from your assets under Chinese laws. It is maybe better for you to divorce in China as under China marriage law, husband doesn’t have to pay spousal alimony.

  31. Simon Lum says:

    Hi Jason,

    You have a very good blog which is helping many people. I was hoping you may be able to guide me please?

    I have an Australian friend who married a Chinese woman in China. They are both now in Australia and she has Australian permanent residency, but the marriage is not good and he wants a divorce.

    Reading your blog, I think he does not have to return to China to get a divorce from her, but can use the Australian Family Law Court?

    Could you confirm this?

    Thank you.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Simon, actually you will be find a better answer if you turn to an Australian lawyer. However, i think you are right, though i don’t know much about Australian laws.

  32. Martin says:

    Hi Jason, I am an American guy married to a woman from China. My wife and I have had problems for years with her stealing money from me constantly, and finally we stopped living together over a year and a half ago due to so many incompatibilities (one of which was she wanted to move to America to get American citizenship and I prefer to stay in China). I have met another girl and got her pregnant about seven months ago. I was in the hospital last summer from a motorcycle accident and my wife left me alone in the hospital (after cleaning out my bank account). That’s how I met the girl I’m with now. My wife says she won’t agree to a divorce and just seems she wants to cause me pain and suffering my whole life long. What can she do to me now that I have a girlfriend now that I’m about to have a child with? This is really awful, and she only cares about one thing – money. We have no property to split here in China and no assets to mention. What should I do?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Martin, then just sue to divorce. Just a matter of time.

      1. Ray says:


        Can the wife sue the spouse and other woman for adultly in China?

        1. Jason Tian says:

          No, she cannot sue your new girlfriend. She can definitely sue you for spiritual damages which won’t be much at all, probably around RMB 30,000.

          1. Ray says:

            great blog you have

            What about pressing charge with
            out of wed-lock child and cohabitation if still married in China. I heard these very seriously in China and can lead to imprisonment and fines to one or both parties

          2. Jason Tian says:

            Ray, I didn’t publish your long account of your story to protect your privacy. You’d better communicate with me via email instead of posting here. You have many questions and I cannot spend that much time in replying without charging a fee.

  33. Cheng says:

    Hi. I am a UK citizen. My husband is a PRC national with UK citizenship. We got married in UK and have been residing in the UK. We also got a marriage certificate in China. We have two children. My husband wants a divorce and for some reason, he wants to get a divorce in China (even though we reside in the UK). We do not have any properties in China. Are you aware of any reasons why he would want to choose to divorce me in China? Can he get a divorce in China if I’m in the UK and do NOT agree to the divorce? Your reply would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Jason Tian says:

      I don’t know much about UK divorce laws, so i cannot make much comparison. However so far as I know, there is a big difference between China divorce law and American (possibly UK) divorce law that in China, the husband does not have to provide spousal support to the wife when divorce is granted by court. Other than that, he may feel more comfortable in China which is just the opposite for you. If you had your marriage registered in China, then he can sue to divorce in China. In certain cases, even you don’t come to China, he would be able to get a divorce judgment in which the court generally won’t touch on the custody of Children and properties, only divorce itself. On the other hand, you can sue to divorce in UK. Chinese court judgment is not valid in UK unless it is recognized by UK courts, and vice versus.

  34. Gg says:


    I married a Chinese in China, but I’m from Singapore. We are not married in Singapore. If I divorce my wife in China, can she make any claims on my real estate or savings in Singapore?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Theoretically, she can make claims for the assets in SG that are acquired by you after marriage. But in practice, courts seldom deal with assets not located in China esp real estate.

  35. Pek says:

    My wife and I are co-owners of a business in Beijing. Of course, because it is registered in China my name is not on the business. We have been separated for 3 years and now she wants to finalize the divorce. We have no other assets together in China. No kids. Three questions: 1. If we decide on a mutual split of company assets, will a written contract between her (the company) and me be enough and considered binding in a court of law in China so that it may be enforced? 2. If we fail to come to that mutual agreement, how can the company assets be fairly distributed by law? 3. Can she try to claim assets under my name in California even though we were married in China?


  36. Tory says:

    Hi, i have a friend. Her husband and her both Chinese and were married in China. They have been seperated for 6 years and she lives in Texas with their 14 year old son. They both agree to a uncontested divorce but she does not have the means to go back to China. Can they get divorced in Texas or China with one of them not being presents. Maybe send documents back and forth getting them notorized.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      You should seek advice from Texas lawyer to see whether it is possible to divorce in Texas. As for China, she can be sure to divorce through China courts. So long as both parties can agree and cooperate, it can done with she remaining in Texas.

  37. James Kirk says:

    My friend wants to divorce her husband in china but she says whoever files for divorce loses rights to all the jointly owned property. Is that true?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      it is definitely wrong to say. The properties are generally split half-half between the couple. Let me know how much properties it is involved and see whether i can help.

  38. lu says:

    hello, my husband and i go married in the us and had a son in the us. we then traveled back to china and had a ceremony also. we have divorced in US and agreeded with each other on the custody of our two year old son. we had little property since both of us were going to school, so that was no issue. what do we need to do to make it legal or recgonizied in china also? thank you.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Dear Lu, you will need to apply to a China court to recognize the court judgement made by American court. It is more a procedural job by following certain procedures laid out by law. To save time and money, it is better you hire a local attorney to do that. I don’t need to go into details as to what documents will be required therein.

      If you live or lived (before going to USA) in Shanghai or the neighboring area, I may be available to help. Otherwise, talk to a local lawyer.

  39. Benjamin says:

    My girlfriend – Chinese national – got married in Italy but is trying to divorce. She has been unofficially separated for almost a year. We do not want to endure the 3+ year separation/divorce process. She is currently living in China for about 6 months and does not intend to return to Italy. Can she file for divorce in China without her ex present? He is not contesting the divorce and there are no conditions such as property or children to deal with.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      yes, she can divorce in Chinese court.

  40. Sal says:

    I am a US citizen and married a Chinese woman in Chengdu China 10 years ago.
    We live in the US for the past 4 years
    She has a green card. I want to file for divorce. Can I file in the US with a US lawyer or do I have to go back to China
    to file for divorce


    1. Jason Tian says:

      i suppose you can file the divorce in USA and it is up to your wife whether she will apply to Chinese courts to recognize the divorce judgment made by American court.

      However, it is cheaper to divorce in China from husband’s point of view.

  41. William says:

    Hi, I live in the U.S. and my girlfriend is from China. She has been in the U.S. for almost two years, and has been seperated from her husband eight years, during which time she lived with her parents. We are talking about getting married, but she is still legally married in China. Can she file for divorce here in the U.S. or does she have to file for divorce in China. She is not able to travel back to China. Thank you.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Please consult a local attorney in her area in USA to see whether American courts will accept her divorce filing there. If not, she has to file divorce in China in which case she does not have to come back to China.

      1. William says:

        Thank you for your response. If filed in the U.S., time would be given for her husband to sign the divorce papers. In the U.S., if he does not sign, the divorce will still proceed, if there is no custody or property issues. Does this apply in China, if she has to have the divorce handled in China, and her husband refuses to sign the divorce notice? I believe in the U.S., most states allow up to three months. If there is no response from the defendant, then the divorce proceeds. Again, thank you.

  42. BB says:

    I am a US citizen. I was married to a Chinese citizen in Fuzhou almost two years ago. I am 8 months pregnant. I am living in America and have been for the past 6 months because of the pregnancy.

    I found out just last week that my Chinese husband has been cheating on me in China, that he has had a girlfriend since at least July. I have evidence of messages and photos between him and his girlfriend. He is still in contact with this girlfriend and still seeing her.

    I want to apply for a divorce. He doesn’t want to get a divorce. He wants to have two wives, one in China and one in America.

    I completely do not agree with this and want to file for an annulment or divorce as soon as possible. Can I file in the States or do I need to file in Fuzhou? If filing in Fuzhou, since I cannot go to China, can I file in Fuzhou from the US? Do I need a local lawyer to file in Fuzhou or can I use one in Shanghai or Beijing?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      You should ask American lawyer in your area to see whether you can file a divorce in USA. As for filing a divorce case in Fuzhou where you registered your marriage with him, you can file with the help of a Chinese lawyer either from Fuzhou or from Shanghai or Beijing.

      1. BB says:

        So I don’t need to use a Chinese lawyer in Fuzhou, I can use one in Shanghai?

        I want to file for divorce in the USA if possible. Do you think child custody could potentially be handled in the US? Or is that only handled in China?

        Should I file for divorce in both? Or is one country sufficient?

        1. Jason Tian says:

          yes, you can use a Shanghai lawyer but the cost can be substantially higher due to the travel from Shanghai to Fuzhou. As you are an American citizen, i believe you should be able to file a case in USA. I also believed that USA court will handle the child custody issue there in your favor, though I strongly suggest that you consult an American lawyer there. Generally, a court won’t deal with property located in a foreign country, esp real estate properties.

          You don’t have to file two divorce cases parallel in both USA and China. However, if you divorce in USA, you would be deemed as still married in China (since your marriage is registered) unless you and your husband effect the divorce formalities here in China or you get the American divorce judgment recognized in Fuzhou court.

          1. BB says:

            Neither of us currently own any properties nor any joint accounts. But if I only file in America and we are still technically married in China, could he potentially claim rights to my future assets even if we’re divorced in the States? Would only filing in the States prevent me from re-marrying in the future?

            The best way to get the divorce recognized in Fuzhou court is to file it via a lawyer in China, correct? Would I have to be physically present in China to file for a divorce or could it be done by a lawyer on my behalf? I do not intend to return to China.

          2. Jason Tian says:

            If you have assets in China after your divorce in USA, then he could go after your assets on the ground that you two are still married in China. You should get the divorce judgment recognized in Fuzhou if you are going to be engaged with China. Yes, you will have to rely on a local lawyer to recognize your American court judgment.

  43. Kevin says:

    Hello from Canada. My friend from China married in China, moved to Canada, and divorced here in Canada. Her ex wants to sue her in China for a real estate property she owns in China, which was purchased prior to their marriage in her own name. Is her ex entitled to any of this property (50% of the current value, the increase in value during their marriage)? Also, they have been divorced for over one year now. Is there a time limitation as to when he can make such claims against her?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Kevin, if the property she bought had a mortgage loan that was paid up during the marriage, he ex has the right to claim a part of the increased value of the property. There is no time limitation there.

      1. Kevin says:

        Hello Jason, thank you for your response. Would his claim typically be 50% of the increase in value, or some other percentage? Also, what if there was still an outstanding mortgage on the property at the time of divorce?

        The former couple also has a joint property. By that I mean both of their names are on the property’s title. They both made equal contributions to the down payment, but the mortgage was in his name. How would this property be split in court? Please advise. Thanks!

        1. Jason Tian says:

          yes, generally each can claim 50% of increased value of the property. for the joint property, the general splitting is 50%-50% unless they have agreed on each share on the title deed.

  44. Jisan says:


    Jason, I am an Asutralian got married with a chinese . Now my wife is pregnant and she does not want live in Australia and i don’t want to go to china. In that case , if we divorce what will be the procedure and one more question i don’t have any property on my name but my father has a house, so in that case will she be able to claim property share from me as she is going to birth my baby? Note that, i don’t have any property specially on my name , living with my parents at their property.


    1. Jason Tian says:

      I can only tell you according to Chinese laws. As she is pregnant, unless she initiates the divorce, you cannot divorce her. She won’t be able to claim share in your father’s property. You may need to soothe her and convince her to stay with you. It is too bad for the child if you divorce now. She or he will have to grow up without father.

      1. Jisan says:

        It’s not i want to divorce it is she always talks about this. She wants to me fly to china and live there, which doesn’t make sense. Nevertheless, i appreciate your valuable suggestion and will try to follow . However, she can’t claim on my father’s property but what about my kid? But again as i don’t have any property so lawfully my new born baby also can’t claim on my parent’s property, isn’t it? And thank you very much for your valuable comments.

        1. Jason Tian says:

          No, no one including the new born can claim the property of others.

  45. Qian liu says:

    Dear, Jason Tian
    My name is Qian liu, I am live in Canada, I got married in 2002 Oct 23 in Qinzhou, soon we got married I returned to Canada, within a year, I found out from my brother in China. he noticed my wife in china got a boyfriend, Since then we both agreed to get divorces, so I send out my married certification back to my wife and I requested her to process the divorces and send back for me to Canada , and I will get lawyer to do ours divorce, my wife requested me to go back to china to get divorce, I cannot afford to go as I had lost my job at that time, since then I have not hear from my wife any more. On July 22, 2014. I had received a document from international legal cooperation Center ministry of justice of CHAOYANGMEN NANDAJIE, CHAOYANG DISTRICT Beijing 100020, people’s republic of china . ” Convention on the services abroad of judicial and extrajudicial document in civil or commercial matters, signed at The Hague, Nov 15, 1965 ( article 5, fourth paragraph) dispute over divorce, date to court in Qinzhou City, Nov 11, 2014 at 9:00 am. In this case. What should I do as I cannot go back to China due to I have financial
    Problem. Can I able to get divorce in Canada? How can I respond to the court house in Qinzhou City , I am don’t have my married certification as I already sent its back to my wife. What do I need to do? Thank you

    1. Jason Tian says:

      You may just sit there doing nothing, but signing all legal documents to you. it is possible that the court will just enter a divorce judgment with you being there. Of course, if there are money issues or property to be split, you’d better hire a lawyer to defend your interests. Otherwise, do what i say.

  46. Steve says:

    Hi Jason,
    I’m a UK citizen currently married to a Chinese Lady from Hubei province.We have no children from the marriage.
    We have been seperated for over 2 years now and I need to know how to proceed with a divorce and also what happens under Chinese law regarding any properties we own.
    My wife has never been to the UK, due to visa restrictions.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Steve, where did you get married or register your marriage? In a city in Hubei or in Shanghai? You can sue to divorce in the place where she lives or where her Hukou is registered. With regard to properties, are the properties bought during your marriage or before it? Who are registered as the owners? You can later send reply to via my working email: [email protected] or [email protected].

  47. Dear Jason,

    I have been trying to find a solution and Chinese law about getting divorce. After I’ve been read your blog now I feel like I have my hope back again.

    In my case I’m not a person who’s got married with a Chinese citizen but my boyfriend does. My boyfriend is a Canadian citizen, they have been separated for about a year (or more). Now my boyfriend live in Thailand both are agreed on termination the marriage but he don’t want to travel to China to get divorce as he could not leave his restaurant business, could this be done outside China and what do we have to do?
    I hope you could help us with this, as it’s inter-fearing our relationship, when his ex keep harassing us via e-mails and phone calls

    Thank you very much in advance.

    Best Regards,


    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi May, I will reply via email separately.

  48. Erik says:

    Hi. How to obtain China court rejection of handle foreign marriage? Residing in China, Husband Danish, Wife Malaysian, Married in Denmark. We would like to Divorce outside China. Denmark civil court require a rejection letter by China authorities in order to accept the Divorce application in Denmark. Thank you

    1. Jason Tian says:

      I believe this can be done by obtaining a rejection letter or notice from the Chinese court after you try to file your divorce case with it here in China. As a legal requirement, if the Chinese court refuses to entertain your case, it should give you a written notice and explanation on why your case is rejected. This written document should serve your purpose in Denmark.

      Where are you? If in Shanghai or not far from Shanghai, I may help you with this. However, this is a request of its kind for the first time for me. So you need to try it out and I am confident that you will be successful with proper communication with the Chinese court.

  49. KL says:

    Hi ,
    I have a fiancee who is going through property settlement with her x partner, the property is in BJ and her X is an Australian born Chinese , she has PR for Australa they have a child who was born in Aust,she is in BJ at the moment and he travels between Aust and China, he the X has put a claim in for 100% of 2 units my future wife owns with her family, the question I have he is claiming 100% of the assets and has not supported his son since being seperated,as records were not kept correctly she now finds she may lose most of her property that was finaced by her parents and herself as he was supported by them to get through 4 years of University , the question I have is.
    1.How long does the claim stay valid for in the Chinese court system( he put the application property claim in Nov 2012 in Beijing)
    2.Can he claim for all of the properties ( one of the properties is in his name and the other in her parents name)but it was whole finaced by her side of the family
    3.Is there a mediation court where it can be discussed without going through the court system.
    4.Is he required to pay child maintainace for the mother is she has full time care of the 5 yo

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Dear KL, from your accounts, her ex partner was suing for 100% ownership in the two properties. Are they duly married? It seemed that he is not suing to divorce but to grab the two properties.

      I cannot answer your questions based on your scarce information.

      There is no mediation court in China though the law does provide for mediation by local mediation commission which in most cases does not work well at all.

      In China, upon divorce or separation, both parents shall be liable for the maintenance of their children, but it won’t be a big sum. The court will only order one party to pay the fee according to the normal standard of living in the place where the child is raised.

      By the way, there is no alimony for the spouse in China.

  50. Xoro says:


    Thank you so much for all your answers.

    One last question…
    If my sister-in-law (born as a Chinese national/citizen) has become a Canadian citizen, can my brother and wife still return to China to divorce?

    From your article, it sounds like she is able to since there is a “China element” involved… but I would just like to get clarification.

    Thank you.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      yes, since they got married in China, they will still be able to divorce in China even if she turned herself into a Canadian citizen.

  51. Coco says:


    I am an asylum seeker in UK for about 6 years. I was married in China 7 years ago and we had 2 children in UK. We are agreeing to divorce but we may have some disagreements with the custody of the child. We cannot return to China to divorce. May I know what is the best solution?

    If we divorce in UK, I understand from your article that China will not recognize the court’s decision on the children custody. But as we are not planning to return to China, will that matter?

    Please advise. Thanks.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Coco, in any case, if there is disagreement over custody of the child, you will have to resort to court to have it settled. As you don’t plan to come back to China, it does not matter whether China will recognize UK court decision. So if UK court will have jurisdiction over your divorce, just do it there.

  52. Xoro says:

    Hi Jason,

    My brother (Canadian citizen) married a Chinese national 7 years ago in China. They both currently reside in Canada. They both have recently agreed to get divorced. They have no children and have no disputes over assets; they simply want a quick divorce. They prefer the swift divorce process China law offers by way of “divorce agreement”. Is it possible for them to get divorced without having to return to China? Or do they have to be in China to register the divorce.

    Thank you.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Xoro, so far as I know from my law practice in Shanghai, they have to come to Shanghai personally in order to divorce by agreement. The idea of having a divorce agreement may help to some extent, but it does not mean much if any party withdraws from the agreement before registration of divorce with government department. Then a party shall have to go to court to terminate their marriage, and so far, the mainstream thought is that the signed divorce agreement will not be strictly followed by the court, though it can serve as a reference guide for court to render judgment.

      Alternatively, the parties can only then choose to divorce through court if they don’t want to come back home. In this case, you may hire a lawyer to help you through the legal proceeding for divorce.

      1. Xoro says:

        I appreciate your answers. I have some more questions.

        They originally got married in GuangXi province. If they have absolutely no dispute between them and decide to divorce by agreement and in person, can they register the divorce anywhere in China (e.g. Shanghai) or are they required to file for divorce in Guangxi province? Is “divorce by agreement” in person the quickest way to register a divorce, given there is absolutely no dispute between them? With “divorce by agreement” between a foreign citizen and Chinese citizen be recognized even if neither lived in China for the past 5 years?

        Alternatively, if they do not want to go back to China in person and decide to hire a lawyer, should they hire a lawyer from GuangXi province or can they hire any lawyer from any province (e.g. Shanghai)? What are the typical lawyer fee ranges, legal proceedings and duration if one decides to register the divorce without desiring to return to China?

        Again, thank you for your answers.

        1. Jason Tian says:

          They have to go back to Guangxi to divorce by agreement. They can hire any lawyer from China to represent them. But non-local lawyer can be more expensive than local ones esp they hire lawyers in Shanghai. If they are ready to come back to China, I don’t think it much necessary to use a lawyer as there is no much dispute there. Divorce by agreement is of course the quickest way to end the marriage.

          As for lawyer fee, it can vary from place to place and from one lawyer to another substantially. For example, I would generally charge no less than RMB 20,000 for court divorce without disputes between parties plus travel cost from Shanghai to Guangxi, which will make it more than reasonable for many clients. I recommend that you talk to local lawyers to find out more.

  53. Jen says:

    Hi, My father and mother married in China but both live in Europe now (father in UK and mother in Netherlands). They have decided to divorce. Is it possible for proceedings to take place in UK, or would they have to go back to China to take action? How long would either option take?

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Jen, if they both have lived in Europe for long, establishing their domicile there, they should be able to file a divorce there. There are other factors to be taken into account, such as their nationality. But this is a question to be answered in accordance with local laws. So I advise you to ask local lawyers for advice on the jurisdiction over your parent’s divorce.

      What I can tell you is that if they get married in China, they will always be able to divorce in China. If the divorce takes place in China, legally speaking, Chinese laws do not have a limitation on time of proceeding involving foreign elements, but in practice, it may take around six months to close the court proceeding of the first instance. If either party appeals, another three months will ensue.

      Hope this is helpful to you.

  54. ga wing says:

    Hi Jason,

    My father (chinese) would like to divorce his chinese wife. He is a UK resident and his wife is living in China, they married in china 5 years ago.

    How do we proceed? His wife has requested a diovorce and he agrees to this. Not sure what the process is.

    Thank you.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Ga Wing, I have replied to you through email some while ago, and I hope you have received it. I have not heard comments from you on my reply so far.

  55. Cody says:


    I just want to thank you for your informative blog and for your detailed responses. With a difficult situation as divorce between Chinese nationals and foreigners, it can be difficult to find correct answers. Other sites I’ve read or attorney’s I’ve spoken with had only vague wordings.

    Best regards.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Cross border legal matters are generally more complicated as it involves a critical issue of choice of applicable laws, which only experienced lawyers dealing with international or foreign-related matters know well.

      Probably, I have let out too much information, and no one will need to hire an attorney any more. : )

  56. troy says:

    When the couple cannot agree on terms of divorce, they will have to go to court to get divorced. But which court to go?As mentioned above, such recognition is to recognize the ending of the marriage legal relationship only and it is not to recognize judgments concerning marital property distribution or children custody.

  57. Troy says:

    When the couple cannot agree on terms of divorce, they will have to go to court to get divorced. But which court to go?
    Application for recognizing foreign divorce judgment shall be submitted to local intermediary court in the (original) place of residence place of the applicant.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Troy, as for jurisdiction over a divorce case, it depends on various factors such as place of habitual residence, domicile, mutual agreements. In China, the general principle of court jurisdiction is that the plaintiff should sue the defendant at the place in which the defendant is domiciled. In the case of divorcing between a Chinese national and foreigner, it is much more complicated. If you have a specific situation, please write to me via email.

  58. David says:

    Hi, I was married to a Chinese national in September 2010 in China, Guang Xi, Beihai and we have separated and want to divorce. We both now reside in Australia, what do I need to do to get the divorce? How long will I have to wait to get this divorce?


    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi David, if you are going to divorce in Australia, you need to consult an Australian lawyer for your question. If there are no disputes between you two, you may simply file a divorce with local civil affair department in Guangxi where you were married. It can be very swift. If you have to get divorced in China via court, it will be hard to tell how much time it will take, maybe half a year or longer.

  59. zheng says:

    i am chinese national and i want to divorce my chinese wife. We moved to canada 2.5 years ago with valid permanent resident status. I had filed the divorce in Canada 1 year ago but no divorce granted yet. i am still waiting the court order and i would like to know how to legally end our marriage in china and how to makesure the child custody and property distribution is according to the foreign court order? thank you.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Zheng, from your message, one fact can be well established that you and your wife and child have been living in Canada for more than two years. To end your marriage in China, you can take two approaches: (1) wait for the judgment by the Canadian court you are submitting to and then apply to Chinese court to recognize the divorcing judgment; (2) you file a divorcing lawsuit with a Chinese court and get a divorcing judgment in China.

      If you choose the first option, there will be the issue that the contents regarding division of your community property and custody of child will not be recognized in China, though the decision of divorcing will be recognized. You may have to take a lawsuit again in China unless you and your wife can agree on the distribution of such assets.

      If you choose the second option, under Chinese new law regarding cases with foreign elements, given the fact you both have been living in Canada for more than two years, Chinese court will apply Canadian laws to the division and distribution of community property and granting of custody of Child and however will apply Chinese laws to decide whether divorcing will be allowed between the spouses.

      I hope this helps a bit.

  60. Delwyn says:

    Hi, I am married to someone from Hebei. He is currently in China and I am in Australia. I do not want to go to China to get divorced, I’d rather do it here. What do I need to do? Thank you.

    1. Jason Tian says:

      Hi Delwym, you can sue there to get divorced with a man in China so long as Australia court entertains your case filing. Since you sue in Australia, most of the legal issues are related to Australia law, you need to hire a lawyer there for advice.

      After winning a divorce judgment, you need to apply to Chinese court for recognition and thereafter, you are legally divorced in China.

      By the way, are you a Chinese national or Australian citizen?