Li Ming is bitter. First, her five-year marriage ended - she`s convinced her husband had affairs - and now she`s in a legal battle for the apartment they lived in.
"He`s reluctant to share a single tile with me," said Li, a Shanghai native. She believes she co-owns the apartment, which is registered in her husband`s name.
Under current divorce law, husbands and wives each get half of the marital assets unless one is proven to have acted in a way that violated the marriage
Now the Supreme Court is addressing pre-marriage assets, particularly property such as a house, in a draft interpretation of the Marriage Law.
The draft says that a person has sole ownership of a pre-marriage asset, including its appreciated value, unless his or her partner proves contribution.
Some experts complain that legislators are not doing enough to protect women. The fundamental difficulty for the wife lies in her inability to provide evidence of her husband`s misconduct.
In practice, lawyers said, asset division in most divorce cases is fair to women, sometimes favoring them. The key issue is whether husbands and wives should be treated the same in legislation about asset division.
How do you prove it?
Li Mingshun, a law professor at China Women`s University in Beijing, said women should be compensated better in a divorce. But there`s the matter of evidence.
"It is not possible for me to prove his adultery," said Li Ming, who said that a year ago she accidentally saw her husband`s text messages inviting women to spend the night with him. "He denied everything. And how can I obtain evidence of him in bed with his lovers?"
A divorce lawyer said about 70 percent of couples divorce because of affairs. "Mostly it is the man.
Bemoaning the loss
The men aren`t always in control. Sometimes they need evidence, too.
Tang Jian`an, a Shanghai divorce lawyer at M&A Law Firm, has seen a few cases in which the wife hid the marital assets. "In Shanghai, women are money-savvy and take control of home finances," he said.
And an increasing number of men are complaining about their financial losses in divorce. Lawyer Song mentioned one client, a Beijing man who divorced his wife from northeastern China. As they stepped out of the courtroom, he told Song that he would never again marry a penniless woman.
Sixty years after China`s first Marriage Law, which for the first time raised the issue of gender equality, the social status of women has improved dramatically.
Women are confident, independent and in some aspects doing better than men, "Overprotection can only lead to gender inequality," said Jia Mingjun with Whole Guard Law Firm based in Shanghai.
"Men make no less contribution to a family than women. While women look after children and seniors at home, men are out drinking with business partners for the family. It is not easy, either."
Some women have taken the initiative to protect themselves before marriage.
"Nothing is reliable, not your life, not your marriage," said An Jian, a 30-year-old who had a prenuptial agreement with her boyfriend before they were married in 2007. "It is better to make it clear in case anything happens in the future."