Divorce in China
According to China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs, 1.71 million couples divorced in 2009. These figures are only for divorces granted by the offices of the Ministry of Civil Affairs and do not include divorces granted by the Chinese courts. As per estimates, 20% of Chinese marriages end in divorce. In 2003, the Chinese authorities simplified the divorce procedures making it possible for a couple to divorce in a day for a small fee of 10 yuan. Ever since, there has been a sharp increase in the number of divorces in the last 8 years. In the larger Chinese cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Guangzhou, the divorce rate is estimated to be around 35%.
Chinese divorce laws
China’s first marriage law was passed in 1950. This law allowed divorce only after mediation and counseling had failed. China enacted a revised marriage law in 1980 called “Marriage Law of the People’s Republic of China”. This was subsequently amended in 2001. Chapter IV of this law deals with Divorce. As per Chapter IV, Article 31, a husband and wife seeking divorce should apply to the marriage registration office of the Ministry of Civil Affairs. The marriage registration office will confirm that both parties mutually want a divorce and appropriate arrangements have been made for the care of any children and the disposition of property. Once the authorities in the marriage registration office are convinced, they will issue a divorce certificate.
In case only one of the spouse wants a divorce, then he/she can approach the People’s Court to initiate divorce proceedings. The People’s Court must first attempt reconciliation between the estranged couple. As per Article 32 of the Marriage law, the People’s Court can grant a divorce on the following grounds:
- One spouse is guilty of bigamy or cohabiting with another person.
- In cases of domestic violence, abuse or neglect.
- One of the spouse is engaged in gambling, drug use, etc. and refuses to reform.
- When the husband and wife have been separated for two years due to lack of mutual affection.
- Any other case which destroys the affection between husband and wife.
- One spouse is reported missing.
When the spouse of a soldier who is in active service seeks a divorce, then the divorce can only be granted if the soldier gives his/her consent. Only if the soldier has made grave errors, will his/her consent not be required.
Divorce rules were simplified in October 2003. A couple seeking a divorce could go to the marriage registration office with their marriage certificate, residence books, identification cards and a written divorce agreement and get a divorce on the same day. Prior to this simplification of the rules, the couple seeking a divorce had to produce recommendations from the institutions where they worked or from the local residents’ committees or from the villagers’ committees.
Why do Chinese nationals who want to immigrate to the United States of America require a certified translation of the divorce certificate?
The Chinese to English translation of the divorce certificate or divorce decree is needed in two situations:
1] When a Chinese national wants to marry a U.S. citizen and they want to settle in the United States of America, the Chinese national can apply for a marriage visa or fianc visa (K-1 visa or K-2 visa). If the applicant has been previously married and divorced, then he/she will have to submit the Chinese to English certified translation of the divorce certificate to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Divorce Certificate Translation have to be done by professional translation agency.
2] In case a divorced Chinese national has successfully immigrated to the United States of America and subsequently decides to marry in the US; then he/she will have to submit a Chinese certified translation of his/her divorce certificate when applying to a civil marriage court in the USA.
Chinese to English certified translation service
Chinese certified translations of the divorce certificate should be as per U.S. Federal Regulations 8 CFR 103.2 (b) 2 relating to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Immigration Regulations/Powers and Duties – Availability of Records.