Does the Housing Market and Absence of Consumer Bankruptcy Protection Make Interpretation (III) of the Chinese Marriage Law Beneficial to Women, not Men?

Casey G. Watters, Charlie (Xiao-Chuan) Weng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearch


This article explores the existence of a housing 'bubble' in China and the impact market fluctuations and a potential market crash would have on the equitable application of the most recent interpretation of the marriage law by the Supreme People's Court. The interpretation produced overwhelming controversy with the prevailing opinion that the new interpretation is harmful to women and places men in a position of comparative advantage. This opinion assumes that at divorce men will normally take the home while further assuming homes will appreciate in value. This article challenges the second assumption and argues that contrary to the preyailing opinion, the interpretation may ultimately harm men, not women, once the market corrects for inflated real estate prices.
With the prosperous housing market of the last fifteen years, it is easy to believe that real estate will continue to flourish. However, extreme growth cannot be sustained forever and eventually the market should correct over­valuation of assets. Once real estate prices drop below mortgage values, husbands who divorce will be trapped with negative equity mortgages. Their predicament is further compounded by the absence of a consumer bankruptcy law in China, making a discharge of remaining debt impossible.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-122
Number of pages22
JournalThe Property Law Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


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