Husband ordered to pay wife for housework in divorce, prompts spirited online debate

It’s difficult to say which is more newsworthy, the fact that a Beijing divorce court ruled that housework “constitutes intangible property value,” or that the court put a value of just $7,700 on five years of such domestic labor.

And while it seems stay-at-home moms are far less common these days, it’s fairly certain that American husbands splitting with their better halves are glad this ruling is in China.

In what is seen as a landmark ruling, the BBC reported that a Chinese man has been ordered to compensate his wife for the housework she did during their marriage.

According to court records, the couple married in 2015 and the man, identified by his surname Chen, filed for divorce last year. The wife, identified by the surname Wang, was reportedly hesitant to divorce, but would ask for financial compensation when she came around, arguing that Chen did not do his share of housework or caring for their son.

“Beijing’s Fangshan District Court ruled in her favor, ordering him to pay her monthly alimony of 2,000 yuan, as well as the one-off payment of 50,000 yuan — $7,700 — for the housework she has done,” the BBC reported.

Dividing a couple’s joint property after the dissolution of their marriage usually entails splitting tangible property, the presiding judge said, according to the British public service broadcaster.

“But housework constitutes intangible property value,” the judge decided.

China has a new civil code that went into effect this year, the article said, explaining that 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.”

Compensation that was only available previously if a prenuptial agreement had been signed, which is rare in China.

The story prompted spirited debate online about the contributions made by both sides during a marriage and the value therein.

Here’s a sampling of responses to the story from Twitter:

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Tom Tillison

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