Jurisdiction on Divorce involving RE
  • WEN X and SHA X were husband and wife. They registered for marriage in city A in 2005. Both the couple’s household registry was in city A. After marriage, the two had always lived with WEN X’s parents in city A. Between 2006 and 2008, WEN X and SHA X bought, in the name of husband and wife, three real estates in the provincial capital, city B. In January 2009, SHA X filed divorce lawsuit with court in city B, requesting divorce and division of the three real estates located in city B. In this case, does the court where the three real estates are located have jurisdiction? 

    Clause 22, Item 1 in Civil Procedure Law stipulates that: “the people’s court at the defendant’s domicile has jurisdiction over civil lawsuits filed by citizens; If the defendant’s domicile is not the same as his/her habitual residence, jurisdiction belongs to the people’s court at the place of habitual residence.” Clause 4 in Opinions on Civil Procedure Law stipulates that: “a citizen’s domicile refers to the place of his/her household registry. A legal person’s domicile refers to its main place of business or the place where its main administrative body is located.” Therefore, city A should be WEN X’s place of domicile when defendant WEN X’s household registry was in city A. According to the general principle of “plaintiff accommodates the defendant”, when the defendant’s habitual residence is the same as his/her domicile, the jurisdiction shall belong to the people’s court at the place of the defendant’s domicile. Therefore, in this case, people’s court in city A should exercise jurisdiction. 

    Clause 34 Item 1 in Civil Procedure Law provides that: “lawsuits filed arising out of dispute over immovable assets shall be heard by the people’s court at the location of the immovable assets”. This clause should be interpreted as applying to lawsuits of immovable assets being the target of dispute. For cases where one spouse sues for divorce and the divorce lawsuit involves division of immovable assets, jurisdiction of the case shall be decided according to principles set forth in Clause 22 of Civil Procedure Law. In this case, even the divorce case involved division of immovable assets, as it was divorce case involving division of immovable assets, the jurisdiction shall be decided according to the principle of plaintiff accommodates the defendant”, namely the case shall be heard by the court at WEN X’s domicile. Of course, if the couple had been pronounced divorced by the court or had divorced through agreement and that the target of the lawsuit was only about division of the real estate involved, then the principle of jurisdiction by immovable assets location shall apply. 

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