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Clarifying property claims in divorces
( 2003-12-30 08:40) (China Daily)

The new package of judicial interpretations of the Marriage Law released last Friday might be a key to one of the knottiest issues in Chinese society - divorce property partition.

The package, which takes effect on April 1, devotes most of its 29 clauses to the division of wealth after divorce, including houses, stocks, housing subsidies and retirement pensions, as well as intellectual property income.

Mounting divorce cases may be an embarrassing phenomenon to many who still hold the traditional dictum for family cohesion.

Whatever the reason behind the problem, the making of the judicial interpretations in itself displays a positive means of addressing it.

The interpretations define most property items procured in marriage as "joint property," meaning they are subject to division in divorce.

That reflects disfavour toward those who view their advantage in wealth as a chip to override the feelings and interests of the other side in marriage.

To some extent, it will provide better safeguards for female parties and children, who are more likely to be disadvantaged.

The new interpretations exhibit the Supreme People's Court's fine techniques in rule-making, with consideration of the spirit of Marriage Law, as well as traditional values and reality.

They will direct local judges in handling divorce cases as a pragmatic supplement to the Marriage Law which, enacted in 1980 and amended in 2001, is largely in general terms and leaves room for wrangles over detailed issues, property in particular.

Technical matters aside, the supreme court deserves kudos for its approach in producing the interpretations.

In September the court posted a notice on the Internet inviting public proposals and suggestions for the interpretations.

The involvement of public opinion not only sent the top judicial body closer to the masses, but also added to the sensibility of the new interpretations.

It should be maintained as a regular practice in making rules that matter to every citizen's life.

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