We have been covering divorce and child custody in my Women in American Law class. The students have been very interested in the topic, since there has been much recent reporting about the growth in China’s divorce rate over the last several years (see, for example, here and here and even here).
I’ve been curious about how divorce and remarriage (or death of a spouse and remarriage) affects the one family, one child policy, so took the opportunity to ask my students. They were not in complete agreement about what the law is, but the consensus seemed to be as follows: If a person has a child and then divorces and remarries, he or she can have another child so long as the person they are marrying does not have any children. But if the new spouse also has a child, then there cannot be a child of that new marriage.
I was a little amused as the students hashed out what the law actually was, because they relied on the same sorts of things my students at home frequently rely on – anecdotes and television! One student said she thought a person could have another child even if the new spouse had a child already, because her brother had a child and had recently married a woman with a child, and the family’s understanding was that they could have another child (I did not ask her how it is she came to have a brother!). Another said it must be allowed, because there is a popular television show where a widow with one child marries a widower with one child, and then they have another child together (it seems the Brady Bunch, China style, just has 3 kids!). Well, then, if it’s on TV, it must be true, right?! But when it’s state-controlled TV, maybe it is . . . .