Ru­mor leads Shang­hai cou­ples to file for di­vorce

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By ZHOU WENTING in Shang­hai zhouwent­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Shang­hai na­tives Tang Tao and his wife, who tied the knot three years ago, were de­ter­mined to di­vorce on Aug 30 to save some money.

They left their 20-mon­thold girl with their par­ents and rushed to the district’s mar­riage and di­vorce reg­is­tra­tion of­fice be­fore sun­rise.

Luck­ily, they got No 7 on the wait­ing list to have their di­vorce reg­is­tered that day. Be­cause of the sur­pris­ing rise in the num­ber of peo­ple swarm­ing to the of­fice that week, it had lim­ited the num­ber of di­vorce regis­tra­tions to no more than 60 per day.

Such of­fices all over Shang­hai had been bom­barded by cou­ples since ru­mors be­gan cir­cu­lat­ing that, be­gin­ning on Sept 1, cou­ples who di­vorced would still be rec­og­nized for a whole year as mar­ried un­der home pur­chase poli­cies.

The poli­cies re­quire higher down pay­ments and sales tax­e­son houses pur­chased by cou­ples who al­ready own a home.

Sta­tis­tics from Didi Chux­ing, China’s largest car-on-de­mand ser­vice, showed that the num­ber of trips to mar­riage and di­vorce reg­is­tra­tion of­fices in Shang­hai on Aug 29 and 30 tripled that of the same pe­riod the pre­vi­ous week.

Tang and his wife bought an apart­ment when they got mar­ried, but they wanted to buy a larger one.

“My wife doesn’t have an apart­ment un­der her name. If we di­vorced and bought an apart­ment un­der her name, we will save more than 100,000 yuan ($15,000) in sales taxes,” said Tang, 34.

“We just don’t want to waste money. Why don’t we spend that 100,000 yuan on some­thing more mean­ing­ful — for ex­am­ple, a lux­ury trip to Europe for the fam­ily? Even though we are apart legally, we don’t re­gard our­selves as di­vorced. We are still happy to­gether,” he said.

Staff at the di­vorce reg­is­tra­tion of­fices were fa­mil­iar with cou­ples who took the “fake di­vorce” ap­proach to avoid the lim­its on home pur­chases.

“When my hus­band and I were at the of­fice, about five other cou­ples be­side us didn’t look like those whose mar­riages were on the verge of split­ting up,” said Wang Yongy­ong, a 58-year-old from Shang­hai who di­vorced her hus­band last year in or­der to save more than 20,000 yuan in taxes when pur­chas­ing an apart­ment for their son once he is mar­ried.

Wang said she was prompted by her for­mer class­mate to take the di­vorce ap­proach.

“At least three peo­ple in our WeChat group of 20, who used to be class­mates in junior high school, got di­vorced to dodge the lim­its on home pur­chases,” Wang said.

How­ever, there are also cases where peo­ple made the “fake di­vorce” real.

A Shang­hai res­i­dent sur­named Jiang said it might be im­pos­si­ble for her and her ex-hus­band to re­marry, which was their mu­tual prom­ise when they got di­vorced a year ago.

Jiang and her hus­band bought an apart­ment in 2013. They agreed to di­vorce and put the apart­ment un­der the hus­band’s name so that Jiang could buy an­other apart­ment with lower taxes and down pay­ment.

“But we had huge con­flicts in the process of pur­chas­ing the new apart­ment, and he didn’t pay the mort­gage with me as he promised,” Jiang said.

Zhou Hai­wang, vice-di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute of Pop­u­la­tion and De­vel­op­ment at the Shang­hai Academy of So­cial Sci­ences, said that when so many peo­ple de­cide to di­vorce against their wishes for fam­ily sta­bil­ity, pol­icy mak­ers should con­sider an ad­just­ment.

ZHANG RUIQI / FOR CHINA DAILY

A di­vorce reg­is­tra­tion of­fice of the Shang­hai Civil Af­fairs Bureau is bom­barded by cou­ples on Aug 30.

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