The Vietnamese Law on marriage and family of 2000 has been reformed after several months of strong debates in the National Assembly and within the Vietnamese society, notably when the discussion lead to consider the opportunity of creating a civil partnership for same-sex couples, which was eventually dropped. The new law* clarifies many provisions that were already in force and adapt the current family law of Vietnam to social reality.
Firstly, the minimum age to get married is set higher of one year for both men (over 20 years) and women (over 19 years) (Chapter III).
Secondly, the recognition of marriage celebrated abroad is made easier thanks to a simplified procedure of legalization. In the meantime, the new law sets a complete and exhaustive list of documents mandatory to furnish to the administration in order to get married to a Vietnamese spouse (Chapter XI).
Other innovation: the maintenance obligation within the family is extended to aunts, uncles on both father and mother side, together with nieces and nephews. The latter are now entitled to claim or be claimed a maintenance obligation within the scope of enlarged family, not only family members in direct line as before (Chapter IV and V).
Important reform included in the text, the authorization of surrogacy. Nonetheless, the scope of the authorization is strictly defined, as only members of the same family could undertake surrogacy. To be allowed, the surrogate mother shall be a sister or a cousin of the wife or the husband, and shall have had gave birth at least one time before and specifically agree on carrying the baby for the benefit of the infertile couple (Chapter V).
Last but not least, the new law brings two majors modifications to the divorce proceedings (Chapter X).
On one hand, the parents of one the spouse who suffers from domestic violence from the other spouse and who is not able to make decisions because of his mental or physical state, will be able to seize the Court in the name of their son/daughter to file for divorce.
On the other hand, the faults committed during the union (infidelity, domestic abuse, family abandonment) will be taken into account by the Court at the time of the divorce, when the common assets of the spouses are shared. The faulty spouse will be disadvantaged in the assets division because of his/her faults.
The amended law will enter into force on the 1st of January, 2015.
* Law n°52/2014/QH13 on marriage and family, dated June, 19th 2014, available here in Vietnamese language.
FIDAL Asiattorney, especially Benjamin Guégau-Hérisset, in charge of the Civil law and Patrimonial law Department, is able to advise and answer the questions you may have on family law in Vietnam. You can contact him by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.