(Adopted at the Third Session of the Fifth National People's Congress on September 10, 1980, and amended on the basis of the Decision on the Amendment to the Marriage Law of the People's Republic of China, adopted at the 21th Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Ninth National People's Congress on April 28, 2001)
Chapter I General Provisions
Chapter II Marriage Contract
Chapter III Family Relations
Chapter IV Divorce
Chapter V Salvage Measures and Legal Liability
Chapter VI Supplementary Provisions
Article 1 This Law is the fundamental code governing marriage and family relations.
Article 2 A marriage system based on the free choice of partners, on monogamy and on equality between man and woman shall be applied.
The lawful rights and interests of women, children and old people shall be protected.
Family planning shall be practised.
Article 3 Marriage upon arbitrary decision by any third party, mercenary marriage and any other acts of interference in the freedom of marriage shall be prohibited. The exaction of money or gifts in connection with marriage shall be prohibited.
Bigamy shall be prohibited. Anyone who has a spouse shall be prohibited to cohabit with another person of the opposite sex. Family violence shall be prohibited. Maltreatment and desertion of one family member by another shall be prohibited.
Article 4 Husband and wife shall be loyal to each other and respect each other; family members shall respect the old and cherish the young, help each other, and maintain the marriage and family relationship characterized by equality, harmony and civility.
Article 5 Marriage must be based upon the complete willingness of both man and woman. Neither party may use compulsion on the other party, and no third party may interfere.
Article 6 No marriage may be contracted before the man has reached 22 years of age and the woman 20 years of age. Late marriage and late childbirth shall be encouraged.
Article 7 No marriage may be contracted under any of the following circumstances:
(1) if the man and the woman are lineal relatives by blood, or collateral relatives by blood up to the third degree of kinship; or
(2) if the man or the woman is suffering from any disease which is regarded by medical science as rending a person unfit for marriage.
Article 8 Both the man and the woman desiring to contract a marriage shall register in person with the marriage registration office. If the proposed marriage is found to conform with the provisions of this Law, the couple shall be allowed to register and issued marriage certificates. The husband-and-wife relationship shall be established as soon as they obtain the marriage certificates. A couple shall go through marriage registration if it has not done so.
Article 9 After a marriage has been registered, the woman may become a member of the man's family or vice versa, depending on the agreed wishes of the two parties.
Article 10 the marriage shall be invalid if:
(1) either of the married parties commits bigamy;
(2) there is the prohibited degree of kinship between the married parties;
(3) before marriage either of the parties is suffering from a disease which is regarded by medical science as rending a person unfit for marriage and which has not yet been cured after marriage; or
(4) one of the married parties has not reached the statutory age for marriage.
Article 11 where marriage is contracted by coercion, the coerced party may appeal to the marriage registration office or the People's Court for annulment of such marriage. Such an appeal for annulment of marriage made by the coerced party shall be submitted within one year from the date of marriage registration. Where the party concerned whose personal freedom is illegally restrained, such an appeal for annulment of marriage shall be submitted within one year from the date of the restoration of the personal freedom.
Article 12 Any marriage that is invalidated or annulled is null and void from the very beginning. The parties concerned are devoid of any rights or duties of a husband and a wife. The property acquired by them during the period of their cohabitation shall be disposed of by agreement between the parties; if they fail to reach an agreement, the People's Court shall make a judgment on the principle of giving consideration to the unerring party. Where property is to be disposed of because marriage is invalidated as a result of bigamy, the rights and interests in respect of the property enjoyed by the party under lawful contract of marriage may not be encroached on. With regard to the children born by the party concerned, the provisions of this Law on parents and children shall apply.