In a landmark divorce ruling, a Chinese court ordered a man to pay thousands of dollars to his ex-wife, as compensation for housework performed during their five-year marriage.
According to court papers, the man, identified only as Chen, filed for divorce from his wife, Wang, last year, after a five-year marriage.
Although reluctant to grant him the divorce at first, the woman later requested that he compensates her for all the work she did as a full-time housewife during their marriage, adding that he had not participated in raising their child and “barely cared about or participated in any kind of domestic chores”.
Recently, a Beijing family court ruled in the woman’s favour, sparking a heated debate in China.
Wang had demanded restitution equivalent to $24,700 from her husband, but the court determined that she was only entitled to financial compensation equivalent to $7,700.
Beijing’s Fangshan District Court ordered Chen to make a one-off payment of 50,000 yuan, as well as pay his ex-wife 2,000 yuan monthly alimony.
The landmark ruling was made possible by China’s new civil code, which came into effect last year and which states that a spouse is entitled to seek compensation in a divorce, if they consider that they bear more responsibility in raising children, assisting their partner or caring for elderly relatives.
Before, divorcing couples could only split tangible property, and housework constitutes intangible property value.
The ruling sparked a heated debate on Chinese social media, with most people expressing their outrage at the small payout the woman received for five years of housework.
Others said that the case should serve as a warning to other women not to give up on their hopes and aspirations and become housewives, while a few said that this was one of the reasons people nowadays are reluctant to get married.
“I’m a bit speechless, the work of a full-time housewife is being underestimated. In Beijing, hiring a nanny for a year costs more than 50,000 yuan,” someone commented.
“Ladies, remember to always be independent. Don’t give up work after marriage, give yourself your own way out,” another person wrote.
Feng Miao, the judge who presided over this controversial court case, told China National Radio that he expects more similar cases to be filed in the near future, adding that judge’s still need time and experience in estimating the right amount of money in compensation for intangible assets.