In the Law of Marriage and Divorce, it is called “divorce by mutual consent.” This is a way to terminate the marriage through divorce after the two parties mutually agree on the divorce terms. In China, divorce must meet certain criteria, most importantly is that both parties have legal marital status that is recognized either by a Chinese marriage registration or a certificate issued by a Chinese embassy or consulate abroad. In China’s “Marriage Registration Ordinance”, Article 12, paragraph 3, it clearly states that if a marriage is not registered in China, the marriage registration authority will not process a divorce. Therefore, if you apply for marriage in a foreign country, since it is not handled in China, you also can’t apply for a divorce. Additionally, it is impossible for a de facto marriage (couples who live together but aren’t legally married) to advocate for a registration. According to the marriage law, the only exception is if the two parties met all the marriage requirements before February 1, 1994. After February 1, 1994, if a marriage registration cannot be given, the parties will be handled in accordance of a cohabitation relationship. Generally speaking, after February 1, 1994, the Chinese law no longer recognizes de facto marriage. Therefore, if your marriage is not registered in China, you cannot apply for a “de facto marriage” in order to register for divorce.