Survey: Chinese reluctant about prenups

08:56, May 12, 2011      

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A recent survey showed that fewer than 5 percent of the couples in China's first-tier cities have entered into prenuptial agreements, and nearly 90 percent of unmarried people dislike the idea of establishing official records of what property they owned before getting married.
The Beijing-based Horizon Research Consultancy Group polled 3,089 people whose ages ranged from 18 to 60 in December 2010 and released the survey results on Tuesday. The participants lived in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and seven other cities.

"Prenuptial agreements can be helpful in ascertaining legal facts when two people divorce, especially in ascertaining who owns movable property such as cash and jewelry," said Ding Haibin, a marriage lawyer in Shanghai.

According to Chinese law, the ownership of real property depends on the time when the property was purchased. If a husband or a wife buys a house before registering for marriage, the house becomes his or her sole property. If it is bought afterward, it is a joint property.

Ding said most people in China don't take the trouble, before getting married, to have the property that belongs to them officially recorded. That's especially true in big cities, even for movable property.

According to the survey, only 4.8 percent of Chinese married couples have entered into prenuptial agreements. Meanwhile, only 11.5 percent of the unmarried survey respondents said they would go to the trouble of having their ownership of certain pieces of property officially recorded before marriage.

Explaining why they wouldn't take that precaution, most of the respondents said they hold with the traditional notion that officially recording the ownership of property before marriage will "hurt the feelings of their loved one".

"It feels sort of weird, as if my wife and I were getting married to get each other's wealth," said Du Yinan, a 25-year-old government employee in Beijing.

Du said he has no plans to enter into a prenuptial agreement before his marriage.

"It doesn't matter because neither of us has much money to split," he said.

Twenty-five percent of the respondents said entering into a prenuptial agreement indicates that the partners in a couple cannot trust each other.

And 22 percent believed that even if a couple is truly in love, that feeling will sour if a large amount of attention is paid to property ownership.

In addition, 19.8 percent of those polled said making records of who owns what property before a marriage is not necessary if a husband and a wife make close to the same income.

Shi Yao, a writer of the survey report, said some respondents did not consider entering into prenuptial agreements because they did not know what legal procedures they would have to go through or the amount of money they would have to spend.

In China, the divorce rate has increased by 7.6 percent every year between 2003 and 2010. Two million people were divorced in the past year, according to statistics from the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

In the first quarter of 2011, 465,000 couple separated in China, an increase of 17.1 percent from the same period last year.

Source: China Daily
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