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Shanghai to blacklist couples who lie about marital status

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2016-12-28 07:29

Shanghai residents who lie to conceal their marital history when registering for a marriage or divorce will be added to a credit blacklist, making it difficult for them to access public welfare and apply for jobs or loans.

The new policy, to become effective on Sunday, aims to prevent dishonesty in the registration process, which is a recurring problem, said Sun Xiaohong, head of marriage affairs management at the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.

He said couples were once required to present proof of marital status from an employer when registering to marry, but that rule was ended in 2003.

"Sometimes we have found people who claim they have never been married, and have said as much to their partners, but they actually have marriage records in our database," Sun told Shanghai TV News. "Now, such people will be placed on the credit blacklist for three years."

People who provide fake materials, including ID cards, marriage or divorce certificates, court decisions and court mediation papers, or who alter the information on these materials will face the same punishment, he said.

Residents have also suggested setting up a national system for government departments such as police forces, courts and civil affairs bureaus to share information in an attempt to prevent illegal registrations.

In recent years, the rising divorce rate in Shanghai has been linked with policies to cool the housing market, with couples looking to purchase a second home now required to pay higher down payments and sales taxes.

Civil affairs offices across the city were inundated with divorce applications in late August after rumors circulated of a looming policy in September that would contine to recognize divorced couples as married for up to a year in terms of housing policies.

"I believe most couples who have taken the 'fake divorce' approach just really wanted a better apartment and to save some money," said Tang Tao, 33, who admitted to divorcing his wife this year to save 100,000 yuan ($14,400) in sales taxes on a second apartment.

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