Courts get property disputes guidance

Beijing – A house bought by parents and registered under their child’s name remains the personal property of the child even after the child gets married, according to a judicial explanation issued by China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC).

The judicial explanation is expected to cover the settlement of disputes concerning real estate in the country’s increasing number of divorce cases and means the spouse will not become co-owner of the house.

“Parents who buy their children houses used to worry that if their children divorced it could result in the loss of family property,” said SPC spokesman Sun Jungong.

If a house is purchased by both sets of parents and the marriage ends in divorce, the value of the asset can be divided according to each side’s contribution.

Houses mortgaged by one party before the marriage should be deemed the personal property of the registered owner, rather than joint estate, even if the property was registered during the marriage.

But the courts should give reasonable consideration and compensation to the other party’s contributions toward the mortgage payments and the appreciation in the value of the house, according to the explanation.

The judicial explanation, whic came into effect on Saturday, is the third of its kind and was issued after the SPC received nearly 10,000 public opinions.

Property has become an extremely lucrative asset and is a frequently contested matter in divorce cases amid the country’s soaring real estate prices.

Many people applauded the stipulation and said that it was in line with “China’s real situation and social convention”, and was helpful in settling disputes, according to Sun.

Yang Jie, a Beijinger, said on Sunday that her 57-square-meter apartment in Fengtai district is now valued at 1.5 million yuan ($234,700), a significant gain on the 470,000 yuan it cost in 2006.

“The explanation will be an effective way to protect my personal property, which is a welcome relief to me,” she said.

“Since my parents bought the apartment for me, I thought of having a prenuptial agreement before my marriage next year. But I really worried my behavior would hurt my boyfriend’s feeling,” she said.

A report issued by the Ministry of Civil Affairs earlier this year showed that the number of divorce cases in China has been increasing at an average annual rate of 7 percent over the past five years, and in 2010, reached 2.68 million.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

China Daily

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