Simon Says: Can a spouse give away a property in common without consent of the other?

This is the twenty-seventh in a weekly series of legal advice provided in a short and entertaining story format.


每周轻松有趣法律常識故事系列 - 第27篇


Keywords: Marriage Law, Property in Common, Tenants in Common, Consent





Can a spouse give away a property in common without consent of the other?




Jackson and Jill are a couple for more than 10 years. Jackson, 40, is the Vice President of Beijing Jack Film Limited. Jackson and Jill are super fans of Mei Lanfang, the most distinctive Beijing Opera Guru in the past century. As a tin wedding gift, Jackson bought Jill a quadrangle at XiCheng nearby the Forbidden City. With this Quadrangle, they can visit the Mei Opera House owned by the son of Master Mei at the adjacent Hutong as often as they wish.



After Jackson’s dad passed away, he naturally became the new CEO. He decided to get a new secretary, a pretty fresh graduate. After a week of choosing, his eyes fell on a beautiful graduate from the Beijing Film Academy, Angelina.




Jill decided to investigate after she heard about the ‘business trip’ in the Fiji Islands. No business trip would require a 7-star hotel with any client. She found out about the new secretary and was furious. She obviously knew what was up.




Without telling Jackson, who was on the trip, she gave away her RMB200 million Quadrangle to charity as a punishment.




Jackson, after realizing this, went straight to his wife. “What happened to our Quadrangle?” he yelled, outraged. “Well, was the girl worth it? That is the result of cheating on me.” Jill replied snugly. “Get me the Quadrangle back, or I’m divorcing you.” Jackson threatened. “Divorce me then. You divorce me, I get half your assets, and you are not getting the Quadrangle back anyways.”




Is what Jill doing lawfully?



 Simon Says - Episode 27 Can a spouse give away a property in common without consent of the other?


Prof Simon Says:



No, Jill has no right to give away the Quadrangle without getting Jackson’s consent.


The Quadrangle was bought after the marriage, so in the eyes of Chinese Marriage Law, it is considered as a property in common and Jackson and Jill are tenants in common. Before disposal of the Quadrangle, the couple has to agree to sell or dispose of it together, as they are considered as a family being a unit. Giving away the Quadrangle is considered as causing damage to the property in common. Unless otherwise a prior agreement made by the couple, doing so is against the Chinese Marriage Law and is not enforceable under Chinese Law. Jackson can initiate legal proceedings against the donor and donee and the court shall set aside the donation agreement.




For more about this or to contact Professor Simon Choi at, +86 13823677853 or by WeChat: simonhkchoi. 


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Simon Choi

About the Author: Professor Simon Choi

Prof Simon Choi, solicitor and linguist, is an international lawyer, qualified to practise law in England & Wales and in Hong Kong, China. Simon graduated from law schools of the Peking University, the University of London and the University of Hong Kong respectively, with an in-depth knowledge of Chinese laws and common laws and with more than 20 years experience in China practice and international trade, investment, finance, merger & acquisition. He is an adjunct professor of laws at the Zhongnan University of Economics and Law. Simon is the founding partner of Acme Ardent and can be reached at or +86 13823677853.


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30 Aug 2017

By Simon Choi

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