Alimony Hong Kong | Calculating Spousal Support Maintenance - HK Legal
Play Video

Alimony Hong Kong 2020

Alimony refers to the obligation of an individual to provide their spouse with financial support after a separation or divorce.

This legal obligation is only applicable when there is an agreement from both parties. If there is no agreement from both sides, the individual would not be able to request financial support from their spouse after their divorce. 

How to calculate alimony in Hong Kong?

Equal Share To Divide Assets:

Many people pre-assume that former spouses would share marriage proceeds equally.

If it’s as simple as that, a trial wouldn’t be necessary at all. In fact, results can be unexpected as individual judges take different factors into account:

Divorce Alimony Factors in Hong Kong:

  • The relative earnings and earning capacities of the spouses
  • The amount and sources of earned and unearned income of both spouses
  • The relative assets and liabilities of the spouses
  • The standard of living of the spouses established during the marriage
  • The duration of the marriage The ages and the physical, mental, and emotional conditions of the spouses
  • The contribution of a spouse as homemaker
  • The contribution by one spouse to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other spouse

Alimony Payment Conclusion:

As far as the above factors are taken into account, in order to maintain the current living conditions for the children, the court will most likely to award the residence not to the husband but to the wife and children if the children have been living with the wife for a certain period of time.

The Alimony Model in Hong Kong

Don't be afraid to talk about money

The couple can reach an agreement on alimony during their divorce. Either party is allowed to modify the agreement at the court, however if the agreement is voluntary, and both parties are guided by a lawyer, the court will most likely reject such modification.

Types of Alimony:

Clean Break:

The wife is usually entitled to a share in the joint property and may also receive regular maintenance payments.

The court will also consider whether a “clean break” can be used to end the financial obligations of one party.

What is a Clean Break?

A “clean break” means a lump sum distribution of property and/or a lump sum payment (either in one lump sum or by instalments) so that both parties can put the unpleasant events behind them and start a new life without having to remember the breakdown again or bear the burden of litigation (e.g. to collect maintenance that is owed).

Maintenance pending suit

This order also called “interim maintenance”. As its name suggests, this order is for the provision of maintenance pending the grant of final divorce decree.
Periodical payments order
This is an order for maintenance which is to be paid after the final decree. The Court is empowered to limit the duration of the maintenance to a specified time, subject to the needs of the payee and the circumstances.
Secured periodical payments order
Secured periodical payments are ordered where there is reason to believe that the party ordered to make the payment will not pay them.
Lump Sum Order
It is an order for the payment of a capital sum in the case when the payee is entitled to one lump sum only. This order is closely related to the 'clean break' sought by a claimant. The capital sum payable under such order can be paid in various instalments.

Divorce Proceedings

One-on-one consulting services

If both sides have reached a consensus on the child custody and alimony related issues.

Child Custody

Professional Services At Reasonable Fees

In general, child custody refers to a court order for care and control over the child / children.

Hong Kong & China Divorce

Tailor-made solutions

The laws and procedures dealing with family matters differ enormously between Hong Kong and Mainland China.

helping you in family court

Divorce Alimony Service

From HKD$3,199

Managed divorce services include:

  • Help you with child custody
  • Alimony
  • Property division issues
  • Face-to-face consultation meetings 
  • Application can be handled in a time-saving, efficient and professional manner

Other managed divorce services available:​

  • HK-China cross-border divorce settlement
  • Notice of separation
  • Manage application for custody, care and control of the child(ren)
  • Manage application for financial support which includes family assets, properties and monthly alimony payments
  • Illegitimacy
  • Recover or modify alimony
  • Restraining order
  • Explaining the assessment of general separation/unreasonable behavior
  • Assessment of children’s living expenses

It takes five months to complete all procedures for an uncontested divorce (An interim divorce order can occur within three months).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Alimony Hong Kong Questions

The approximate value of each property is calculated after determining the property or funds available for distribution within the household’s total asset portfolio, including stocks, bank savings, life insurance policies or interests in trust funds, etc. The parties must therefore agree on the value of each property, otherwise it is up to the court to decide.

The Court must then consider whether it is fair or practical to maintain the present arrangements for the distribution of assets, or whether certain adjustments are necessary. There are some general principles regarding the division of properties between the parties upon divorce as follows:

a. Ownership of property

Disputes about bank accounts can arise in respect of ownership of the funds and property purchased with the funds derived therein.

If a bank account is in a spouse’s name, then it appears that any money in the account belongs to that person, unless there is a contrary intention or another spouse has made a contribution to the fund.

If a bank account is held in joint names, then it appears that any money in the account belongs to both parties jointly, unless there is a contrary intention, e.g. that the account was put into joint names for convenience.

As a general rule, any property acquired with the funds from a bank account belongs to the purchaser.

Thus, if a husband draws money from a joint account to purchase shares or real property in his sole name, then it appears that these properties belong to him. But if the parties have pooled their resources together, the Court may treat the joint account as a ‘common pool’ and held that investments purchased by the husband with money from the joint account belonged to both husband and wife in equal shares, albeit the husband had made larger contributions to the joint account than the wife.

b. A roof over each party’s head

The Court will ensure that, wherever possible, there is a roof over each party’s head. This is in particular so when there are children in the family. The Court will ensure that the children are properly taken care of by providing them a secure home.

c. Percentage of property available for distribution

In the past, it was customary for the Hong Kong courts to assess a spouse’s “reasonable request” and to distribute assets based on that assessment. The remaining assets would normally be awarded to the breadwinner, usually the husband.

However, the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong had ruled in LKW v DD (2010) 13 HKCFAR 537 that a wife is entitled to half of the couple’s assets when they divorce in Hong Kong.

This 50/50 rule will have major impact in cases where the financial assets are substantial. As a consequence, pre- and post-nuptial agreements will be extremely important for those in Hong Kong who wish to protect his/her personal wealth.

The lifestyle enjoyed by the parties during marriage will reflect on what their needs are. It is helpful to assess whether the financial claim is reasonable or not.

For example, how to ensure that the standard of living of both parties will not be significantly declined after divorce?

However, in reality, it would be more expensive for a couple to live apart than to live together. It is therefore common that both parties will suffer a reduction in the standard of living upon marriage breakdown, unless the divorced couple is very well-off.

Yes, it makes no difference to the availability of financial relief for either party whether the petition for divorce or separation is filed by the husband or the wife.

Although there is a common law presumption that the husband should maintain the wife, the law does not differentiate claims made by a wife against her husband and claims made by a husband against his wife.

The same duty is imposed by statute (law) on a wife, if she does have the financial resources. However, in practice, a man may encounter a higher difficulty to claim financial support from his ex-wife.

In circumstances where a wife is not in need of any maintenance at the time of divorce but wishes to retain her rights to apply for the same in future, she can seek a nominal maintenance order.

This might perhaps be a payment of HK$1 per annum which in practice is never actually made.

However, such order is subject to the possibility of variation subsequently. Husbands should be aware that by agreeing to pay nominal maintenance, there is a risk that they may find themselves having to pay a higher level of maintenance in the future.

From a wife’s point of view, a nominal order will give her a sense of security as her maintenance claim is reserved rather than dismissed.

The court will measure the contribution, financial or otherwise, of each party.

In a marriage, the husband usually earns his income through work or running a business, while the wife is responsible for managing the household and taking care of the children.

The court will not favour the breadwinner or disparage the homemaker and child-care provider. The court will recognize that the husband and wife have different but complementary and equal roles to play in the marital relationship.

Usually for marriages of more than three years, the court will require the other party to pay alimony until the age of 65 or until the other party remarries.

Upon divorce, all assets and property of the couple, whether held individually or jointly, are treated as family assets for the purposes of the law and are subject to distribution by the court. Therefore, even if the property is held by only one spouse, the other spouse has the right to claim a share in the property upon divorce.

When the court rules that a property should be transferred to the other spouse, there are three general situations:

The first is that ownership of the property may be unreservedly held by one spouse.

Secondly, if the court considers that the value of the property transferred exceeds the total amount to which a party, such as the woman, is entitled, she may be required to pay a sum of money as compensation to the man.

Thirdly, if there is still a mortgage on the transferred property and neither party is able to repay the balance of the mortgage immediately, approval from a mortgagee, such as a bank, is required before the transfer can take place and the party holding the property will be responsible for repaying the remaining mortgage.

Many people think that if they criticize the unreasonable behavior of the other party, their spouse will be penalized by a judge for cheating and this will get you more money in the courts.

The courts in Hong Kong have long taken the position that unless the behavior is extremely serious, the court will not intervene to decide whether the couple is right or wrong.

Generally speaking, adultery, spousal assault and neglect of family are not classified as “serious” by the court and will not affect the division of assets in the divorce. 

a. Judgment summons

You can apply for a judgment summons. 

Under the judgment summons, your spouse is being summoned to Court to reveal his or her financial strength to settle the arrears. There should be no delay in pursuing for the outstanding amount as the court might refuse to enforce the Order of payment for those arrears due more than 12 months before proceedings to enforce the payment of them have begun. 

The judge has the power to make a new order for payment of the amount due or to commit your spouse to prison (according to Rule 87 of the Matrimonial Causes Rules) if he or she cannot justify his or her failure to pay. If your spouse fails to attend the hearing, the court will adjourn the case to a further hearing. If he or she still fails to attend on the adjourned hearing, the judge can commit him or her to prison in his or her absence. 

Any committal to prison can be suspended on terms relating to the payment of the debt. 

b. Attachment of income to satisfy order 

With reference to section 28 of the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Ordinance, where a maintenance order has been made against a maintenance payer and: 

  • a court is satisfied that the payer has without reasonable excuse failed to make any payment which he is required to make by the maintenance order;
  • or a court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the payer will not make full and punctual payment in compliance with the maintenance order;
  • or the payer and designated payee agree to the making of an order under this section;
  • and there is any income capable of being attached payable to the payer, the Court may order the income to be attached as to the whole or part of the amount payable under the maintenance order and the amount attached to be paid directly from the payer’s sources of income (e.g. his/her employer) to the specified payee. 

However, the payer could retain certain amount for his/her reasonable living expenses before such deduction.

c. Prohibition order

It is possible to apply to the Court on an ex-parte basis (applied unilaterally by one of the parties only) for an order that your spouse be prevented from leaving Hong Kong pending recovery of the debt.

If granted, the order is served on the Director of Immigration and your spouse will not be allowed to depart if he or she attempts to leave Hong Kong.

This procedure can be very effective in particular when your spouse travels frequently as it is likely to cause your spouse considerable inconvenience. However, you should bear in mind that the Court is reluctant to limit a person’s liberty in this way. Therefore such an application should only be made as a last resort only when every other method of enforcement has been exhausted and proved inappropriate.

Thematic Perspectives

Blog Case Study

2020 Fight for Custody Case in Hong Kong and Negative Effects Towards Children

Older generations have mostly thought about the negative effects of divorce on children, but as time has progressed, in today’s open society, is divorce no longer just a one-way negative effect on children? Will the child be happy that both parents have found happiness in another relationship? 1. Child Custody Case in Hong Kong Child

Can I Divorce in Hong Kong Because of Sexual Incompatibility?

In a marriage, sex is a very important factor in determining whether two people can feel intimate and happy in their relationship. Assuming that sex is not compatible in a marriage, it is a major risk for the marriage in the long run. If two people are sexually incompatible after marriage, can sexual incompatibility be

Contact us

  • We endeavour to enhance the community development. In the aspect of living and work, we manifest our beliefs and visions with our efforts, talents and resources. We take responsibilities for contributing our skills and knowledge to enhance our clients’ quality of life so as to make the community a better place to live.