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Draft judicial interpretation focuses on family matters

Tips for livestreaming hosts, access to kids after divorce focus of document

By CAO YIN | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-04-08 07:27

A draft judicial interpretation on hot issues related to family matters, such as the ways exorbitant rewards given to livestreaming hosts and access to children are handled in divorce cases, aims to resolve such disputes more efficiently.

The Supreme People's Court, China's top court, posted the 21-article draft interpretation of the Civil Code's marriage and family section on its WeChat account on Sunday to solicit public opinion.

It said the draft was formulated to help judges apply the code — a fundamental law for regulating civil activities — more accurately; strongly protect the legitimate rights of women, children, the old and disabled; and maintain the stability and harmony of marriages and families.

Opinions on the draft can be sent to email and workplace addresses disclosed in the WeChat post until April 30.

Zhao Zhanling, a Beijing lawyer who specializes in handling internet-related cases, said the draft is "a timely response to public concerns about emerging marriage and family problems over the past few years".

For example, given the continuous growth of livestreaming and related problems, the draft says that if a spouse's tipping of livestreaming hosts exceeds the family's usual expenditure level, causing significant damage to the couple's common property, courts hearing a divorce case will support the other party's request for the person who gave such tips to receive a smaller share of the assets in the settlement, or no share at all.

If someone can prove the livestreaming contained vulgar or pornographic content that lured internet users, including his or her spouse, to tip the streamer, and asks for the streaming platform to return the money, courts should rule in favor of the plaintiff, the draft says.

Considering the increasing popularity of livestreaming among minors, it also stipulates that if guardians of those under the age of 8 find the children have tipped livestreamers and turn to the courts to request the return of the money, courts should support such refunds.

"Specifying circumstances in which livestreaming tips should be returned is due to the increasingly frequent family and marital disputes arising from such issues nationwide," Zhao said.

"The efficient settlement of such lawsuits will be conducive to upholding justice, maintaining social harmony and promoting the healthy development of the livestreaming sector."

Some streaming platforms and short-video service providers have already been fined for spreading vulgar or pornographic information involving children or using children to make indecent suggestions to attract more online views.

The Cyberspace Administration of China, the nation's top internet regulator, has also tightened its inspection of livestreaming platforms, prohibiting those younger than 16 from acting as hosts and forbidding people from enticing underage users to reward hosts.

Another hot issue addressed by the draft deals with the problem of some individuals preventing their ex-husbands or ex-wives from being able to visit their children after divorce by hiding the minors. It says measures taken to stop such behavior, such as applications for personal safety protection orders for the children, will be supported by courts.

But if someone hides a child because their ex-wife or ex-husband's behavior could severely harm the physical or mental health of the minor, such as through gambling, drug use or domestic violence, judges can solve the issue through termination of guardianship or change of custody, it adds.

"The issue is quite common in family lawsuits," Zhao said. "If the draft can be passed and take effect as soon as possible, related cases will be efficiently resolved, so as to better ensure the implementation of the Civil Code."

Regarded as an encyclopedia of social activities and a key legal instrument to protect people's civil rights, the code was the first law called a code to be enacted since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

The code, which came into effect in January 2021, consists of general provisions that clarify civil rights, duties and principles, and six individual sections on property, contracts, personality rights, marriage and family, inheritance, and torts.

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