On November 24, 2020, the Ministry of Civil Affairs issued the Circular on the Full Implementation of the Marriage Registration Provisions in the Civil Code of the People’s Republic of China (hereinafter, the “Circular”), which came into effect on January 1, 2021. The Circular is highlighted below:
I. Marriage registration authorities will no longer accept requests to annul coerced marriages.
Marriage registration authorities no longer accept applications for the annulment of coerced marriages. In addition, Article 4, Paragraph 3 and Chapter 5 of the Marriage Registration Regulations are abolished, and the wordings “and revocable marriage” under Paragraph (5) of Article 14, the “revocation of coerced marriage” under Paragraph (2) of Article 25, and the “revocation of marriage” under Paragraph (2) of Article 72 are deleted.
II. The marriage registration procedure is adjusted with an additional divorce cool-off period. Divorce registration is handled in accordance with the following procedures:
Both spouses mutually agreeing to a divorce shall sign a written divorce agreement, jointly visit the marriage registration authority with jurisdiction to file the application and provide the relevant papers and supporting materials.
A marriage registrar will conduct a preliminary review of the relevant materials submitted by the parties in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Marriage Registration Regulations. After verifying that the papers and supporting materials submitted by the parties are in order, the marriage registrar will issue a “receipt for acceptance of the divorce registration application.” If the divorce registration application criteria are not met, the application will not be accepted. If the parties request a “notice of declined divorce registration application,” such notice shall be issued.
Any party unwilling to divorce may, within 30 days of the receipt of the divorce registration application and issuance of the “receipt for acceptance of the divorce registration application” by the marriage registration authority, present his/her valid identification papers and the aforementioned receipt to the marriage registration authority that has accepted the divorce registration application to withdraw the divorce registration application. If the parties do not jointly receive the divorce certificate from the marriage registration authority within 30 days after the expiration of the divorce cool-off period, the divorce registration application shall be deemed as withdrawn.
Within 30 days after the expiration of the divorce cool-off period (if the last day before the expiration is a holiday, the expiration date of the period shall be the first day after the holiday), the parties shall jointly visit the marriage registration authority with the relevant papers and materials to apply for a divorce certificate.
The marriage registration authority shall approve the registration and issue the divorce certificate in accordance with Articles 58 through 60 of the Marriage Registration Regulations.
III. The divorce registration file shall be archived. Marriage registration authorities shall set up and digitize their divorce registration files in accordance with the Measures for the Administration of Marriage Registration Files. The materials to be archived should be added with all the materials for the divorce registration application.
IV. The Circular also requires the civil affairs bureaus to strengthen the promotion and training efforts, properly conduct their coordination work, and strengthen risk prevention and internal controls. The Circular also attached the divorce registration application, confirmation and declaration standard forms.