In a landmark ruling under China’s new civil code, a Beijing court has ordered a man to pay his divorce-seeking wife thousands of dollars in compensation for shouldering five years’ worth of household chores.
The case has sparked heated discussion online.
The ruling was made according to the new civil code in the country, which came into effect this year. Under the new law, a spouse is entitled to seek compensation in a divorce if he or she bears more responsibility in child-raising, caring for elderly relatives, and assisting partners in their work.
According to court records, the man identified by his surname Chen filed for divorce last year from his wife, surnamed Wang, after getting married in 2015.
She said her husband “didn’t care about or participate in any kind of chores around the house,” and would go to work each day, leaving her at home to care for their child.
Beijing’s Fangshan District court ruled in her favor, ordering Chen to cough up 50,000 yuan ($7,700) for neglecting his share of the domestic duties.
The presiding judge told reporters on Monday that the division of a couple’s joint property after marriage usually entails splitting tangible property. “But housework constitutes intangible property value,” said the judge.
Previously, divorcing spouses could only request such compensation if a prenuptial agreement had been signed – an uncommon practice in China.
However, some social media users pointed out that 50,000 yuan for five years of work was too little.
“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,” said one commenter.
Others pointed out that men should assume more household duties in the first place.
Some also called on women to continue pursuing their careers after marriage. “Ladies, remember to always be independent. Don’t give up work after marriage, give yourself your own way out,” wrote one social media user.