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China: Around The Nation

Two weddings and a divorce – a Chinese couple’s startling tale of untying a knot of red tape

Breaking up is hard to do – especially when you don’t have the right paperwork

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 February, 2018, 2:38pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 February, 2018, 3:17pm

A Chinese couple filing for divorce after more than a decade together decided to reconcile – and get married – after discovering they had never legally tied the knot in the first place.

The unidentified couple, from Nanjing, in the eastern province of Jiangsu, found out that their marriage certificate was forged when they tried to get a divorce late last year, the Yangtse Evening Post reported on Monday.

The woman was below the legal marriageable age of 20 when they wed 11 years ago so their parents – without the couple’s knowledge – paid for a forged marriage certificate, the report said.

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The couple knew at the time that they were not allowed to get married legally but they never suspected their certificate was fake until they were alerted by Nanjing civil affairs officers processing their divorce application.

That was when the couple, who have a child, decided to reconcile and get married again – this time legally.

But tying the knot meant unravelling a tangle of red tape.

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“The process [for us to get married legally] required us to write so many application letters and ring lots of departments,” the woman was quoted as saying.

This was because their hukou, or household registration, and other documents had already recorded them as “married” based on their fraudulent certificate.

But the effort paid off and the couple were recognised as man and wife in the eyes of the law in January.