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A former stepfather tried to sue his ex-stepson for money spent on university costs before he was divorced from his mother. Photo: Handout

Chinese man takes legal action demanding ex-stepson repay US$5,300, the cost of raising him after divorce

  • A former stepfather has taken legal action to recover money he spent on his ex-stepson after the boy’s mother divorced him
  • He claimed the money had been spent on tuition and living expenses including food and clothes during the ex-stepson’s university study

A divorced stepfather in China has demanded his former stepson repay the money he spent supporting him during his university studies.

The ex-stepfather, surnamed Tang, from Sichuan province in southwest China, filed a lawsuit in March this year demanding his ex-stepson, surnamed Liu, repay him 35,200 yuan (US$5,300).

Tang claimed the money had been spent on covering Liu’s tuition and living expenses including food and clothes during his four years of university study.

Tang married Liu’s mother in 2009 when the boy was 10 years old. Tang helped raise Liu for more than a decade until the mother divorced him last year, news website Shanhai Video reported.

A Chinese court rejected the man’s case demanding US$5,300 for university costs be repaid. Photo: Weibo

In December 2021, about three months after their marriage was dissolved, Tang launched the legal action seeking the return of the money spent on Liu while he was studying.

last month, a local court in Chongqing in southwestern China, rejected Tang’s request after ruling that he had provided the money voluntarily.

“Tang chose to support Liu, despite knowing he didn’t have a legal responsibility to pay for his university study as Liu had reached 18 years of age. In China, children are legally adults once 18, and parents are no longer expected to cover their living expenses,” the presiding court judge told online news site Jiupai News.

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He added that the law also stated even a marriage ending would not stop Liu’s responsibility to provide basic living expenses for his ex-stepfather during old age and that Tang can seek legal redress if required.

Tang’s lawsuit generated substantial discussion on Sina Weibo in mainland China. At the time of writing, 5,248 comments and 100,600 likes had been made on the news outlet’s post.

One commented: “35,200 yuan was such a specific number. Did Tang keep a record of every cent he spent on Liu?”

Another asked: “Liu’s mother was married to Tang for over a decade, would it not be reasonable for her to demand for damages for psychological suffering?”

But another said: “Tang started helping raise Liu once he married Liu’s mother. Now Tang wants his money back, this sounds more like a fit of pique after his marriage failed.”

While cases of divorced men asking for money spent on stepchildren to be returned are almost unheard of in mainland China, cases of fathers avoiding paying child support are widespread.

Earlier this year, a local court in Hainan in southern China ruled that a divorced father had to pay his daughter 1,000 yuan (US$149) a month until the girl turned 18.

Another court in southern China ordered a divorced father to pay 129,000 yuan (US$19,265) to his son in unpaid amount for child support covering more than a decade of missed payments.