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Nicola Laver

Editor, Solicitors Journal

Landmark Beijing case sees housewife compensated for housework

Landmark Beijing case sees housewife compensated for housework


A Chinese man has been ordered to pay £5,500 to his ex-wife in compensation

A Chinese man has been ordered to pay the equivalent of almost £5,500 to his ex-wife as recompense for housework carried out during their five-year marriage. 

The payment follows last month’s implementation of a new civil code under which a divorcing spouse can claim compensation if, for instance, they undertook the majority of the housework. 

Under China’s civil code, which was implemented on 1 January 2021, a divorcing party is entitled to claim compensation from the other spouse on the basis that they bear more duties in taking care of children or ‘elder families’, or provided assistance with the other party's career during the existence of the marriage.

If the parties cannot settle the dispute the court can decide the matter. 

In the first case of its kind since the civil code became law, a Beijing divorce court made the award having decided that the husband had not pulled his weight around the house.

However, if a subsequent online poll of Chinese members of the public is anything to go by - the payment was not enough compensation. 

According to a Guardian report, 94 per cent of the 427,000 polled said the sum was not enough.  

They had, perhaps, worked out that the award reflected a value put on the wife’s housework at the equivalent of less than £3 per day over the five years. 

There are reports that one of the parties is appealing the ruling, though it is unclear which.