Child custody is controversial in most divorce cases. But there was an unusual twist in a recent case in eastern China: Neither the man nor the woman wanted to look after their daughter after the separation.
The couple from Yangzhong, a city in Jiangsu Province, were refused to divorce after claims that none of them could take care of their child, state broadcaster China Central Television reported on Sunday. Everything else – including property and individual debts – they had agreed, however.
While the mother said she was financially unwilling to raise her daughter, the father said he could not look after her due to frequent business trips, according to CCTV.
The Yangzhong People’s Court ruled Thursday that the couple would not allow the couple to separate due to “lack of adequate accommodation” for the child, CCTV reported.
The ruling was supported by both state media and social media users. A comment in the Beijing Youth Daily even went so far as to praise the verdict as “the pinnacle of humanity within the legal system.”
“In reality, many couples cannot take responsibility for raising their children. It doesn’t require a trial or approval process to be a parent, ”Zhang Ying, a divorce attorney, told Sixth Tone. “This court decision could be a warning to the couple to make sure they understand what it is to be a parent.”
According to a new Chinese law, couples seeking divorce must go through a 30-day “cooling off” period during which the separation process can be lifted if either spouse changes their mind. However, some law critics have argued that pre-marriage or even pre-birth counseling could be effective in deterring couples from separation.
On the microblogging platform Weibo, a related hashtag about the judgment of the court had been viewed over 540 million times by Monday afternoon. In the meantime, some users have asked if the judgment will actually solve the problem.
“The decision is not necessarily beneficial to the child,” wrote one Weibo user. “If the relationship were completely destroyed, they could blame the child for the failed divorce and there could be violence.”
Wu Xiaoyan, a Hangzhou-based attorney who specializes in family law, told Sixth Tone she disagreed with the ruling, saying judgments about breakups should be based on relationships between couples.
“If married couples reject responsibility for raising their children, we should consider changing the adoption law instead,” said Wu. “At the same time, parents should pay higher childcare costs, and both should be recorded in the system because they have declined their legal responsibility.”
Editor: Bibek Bhandari.
(Header image: People Visual)