Generally speaking, a married person’s asset could be divided into a family asset and personal asset. According to the China Marriage law, if not otherwise agreed by the couple:

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1. Following asset incurred during the marriage shall be family asset jointly owned by the couple, including:

a. wages and bonuses;
b. any income incurred from production or management;
c. any income incurred from intellectual property;
d. any property inherited or bestowed, except for those as mentioned in #2 below;
e. others.

So if there is no agreement between the couple specify otherwise, most of the income during the marriage should be jointly owned by the couple, even if only the husband or wife make money while the spouse makes nothing at all. Both husband and wife shall have equal rights in the disposal of the jointly owned asset.

Besides, if the couple gets divorced, the family asset will be divided between the couple fifty-fifty. But it could be a relief to most of the husbands because there is no rule about alimony for ex-wife in China. Though the marriage law does say if one party has financial difficulty, the other party shall provide some assistance from his/her personal asset.

2. Personal asset:

a. the pre-marital asset that is owned by one party;
b. the payment for medical treatment or living subsidies for the disabled arising from a bodily injury on either party;
c. the articles of living specially used by either party,
d. others.

3. A written prenuptial agreement will be binding to the couple.

Prenuptial agreement could specify what asset is a family asset or personal asset. Though the marriage law makes a general rule about what asset will be treated as a family asset and what asset is a personal asset, the marriage law also specifies that the couple could come to an agreement otherwise. In other words, prenuptial agreement is allowed in China.

The couple could specify in the prenuptial agreement if the asset during or prior the marriage would be owned by each party jointly or separately. The agreement should be in writing, but not have to be notarized to be effective. If not all asset is jointly owned by the couple, it’s better to draft a detailed list of asset and include the list as an attachment to the agreement. Also, it’s highly recommended that specify clearly how to pay the family expense when the asset is not jointly owned by the couple.

Source: Sophie Mao from
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