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Divorce Proceedings in Hong Kong

  • If you and your spouse decide to file for a divorce and both parties can reach an agreement on other issues arising from the divorce, i.e. there are no disputes on issues such as alimony, child custody and property distribution, then the application would be considered as a simple case in which our firm will employ “Fast Track Divorce” to help streamline the divorce process for our client(s) who will be able to obtain a divorce order as quickly as possible. As long as both parties can reach consensus about issues such as custody and alimony, an interim divorce order will be issued within 6-7 months.

Divorce Proceedings in Hong Kong 2020

Divorce Proceedings in Hong Kong 2020 10 years of experience
One-on-one Managed divorce services

  1. Submit divorce petition
  2. Send the petition to my spouse
  3. Schedule a court hearing
  4. Interim divorce order
  5. Final decree of divorce

Divorce and matrimonial proceedings are generally heard in the Family Court section of the District Court before a District Court judge and proceedings for divorce must be instituted either by a petition for divorce or by an application for divorce.

If it becomes clear that a case raises a difficult point of law or involves assets of considerable value then either party can apply to transfer the case to the High Court. A High Court judge is more experienced and therefore better qualified to deal with complicated cases.

Fast track Divorce:

  • It takes 5 months to finalize an uncontested divorce. (The interim divorce order will be issued by the court within 3 months)

Fast track divorce

Jurisdiction in divorce:

The court shall have jurisdiction in proceedings for divorce under the Matrimonial Causes Ordinance if-

  1. either of the parties to the marriage was domiciled in Hong Kong at the date of the petition or application;
  2. either of the parties to the marriage was habitually resident in Hong Kong throughout the period of 3 years immediately preceding the date of the petition or application;
  3. or either of the parties to the marriage had a substantial connection with Hong Kong at the date of the petition or application.

Unless the court allows otherwise, you can start a petition for divorce only if you have been married for at least 1 year.

Starting a petition for divorce:

To commence the divorce proceedings at our firm, please prepare the following documents:

  1. Marriage certificate and other relevant documents
  2.  Copy of marriage certificate, previous and current residence address, telephone numbers, occupations of both parties and separation date of the couple
  3. If the applicant has child(ren) under 18 years old, please provide the child(en)’s name, date of birth, gender, residence and school address, grade, financial support, custody and visitation rights of the other spouse.
  4. If the child(ren) is/are over 18, only the child(ren)’s name and date of birth are required for the application.

We offer a wide range of services in contested divorce, custody as well as alimony.

helping you in family court

Managed Divorce Service Fees

Our managed divorce services include:

  • The Kingdom Consultancy’s managed divorce services can help cope with child custody, alimony as well as property division issues. Through face-to-face consultation meetings, your application will 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 behaviour
  • Assessment of children’s living expenses
  • Hearing Advisory Service

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

Divorce Proceedings in Hong Kong 2020

Step 1

A petition for divorce shall be filed in the Family Court Registry by either party who is the petitioner for divorce, or by both parties jointly. Once the petition is submitted to the court, the petition must be delivered to the other party who is the respondent who may respond to the petition.

Step 2

If an urgent application is filed for an order such as a interim visitation order, custody order or maintenance order, an affidavit may be filed at this stage.

Step 3

Normally a divorce decree is uncontested, but there might be disputes on property, maintenance, custody or access. If the divorce is uncontested, the petitioner will be summoned to court to verify the claim with the statement of the truth in accordance with the petition and the arrangements for the children. The respondents’ attendance is optional. If the respondent doesn’t attend the hearing, the judge will determine whether the respondent intends to contest the proceedings.

Step 4

If the parties have reached agreement on child custody, access and other matters, the judge may give approval of the agreement and issue a decree absolute. An application for an order absolute may be issued six weeks after the granting of a interim divorce order and an absolute decree approximately two months thereafter.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)​ on Divorce proceedings

1. Place of marriage

The place of marriage is not of main concern. Provided that your marriage was validly constituted in the country where the marriage was celebrated, and the validity of your marriage can be proved, then subject to the following factors, you can apply for divorce in the Court of Hong Kong.

2. Conditions to comply with

One of the following conditions must be satisfied before an application or petition for divorce can be dealt with by a Hong Kong Court:

  • either of the parties to the marriage was domiciled in Hong Kong (Note) on the date of the petition or application;
  • either of the parties to the marriage was habitually resident in Hong Kong throughout a period of 3 years immediately preceding the date of the petition or application;
  • or either of the parties to the marriage had a “substantial connection” with Hong Kong on the date of the petition or application.

It is pertinent to note that whether a “substantial connection” exists will depend on all the circumstances of each case, including but not limited to,

  • the length of time the parties have lived in Hong Kong prior to their application for divorce,
  • how long they intend to stay in Hong Kong,
  • whether the parties have employment in Hong Kong,
  • and whether they have acquired assets or taken a lease of property in the territory. (Note: There are a number of ways in determining whether a person is domiciled in Hong Kong. For example, people would be considered domiciled in Hong Kong if they are holding Hong Kong Permanent Identity Cards, or they are Chinese citizens who have ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than seven years.)

3. Length of marriage

The “one year rule” In general, subject to the following exceptions, no petition for divorce could be presented to a Hong Kong Court before the expiration of the period of 1 year from the date of the marriage ( section 12 of the Matrimonial Causes Ordinance , Cap. 179 ).

No petition for divorce can be submitted until at least 1 year after the marriage, except with the permission of the Court.

Under section 12 of the Matrimonial Causes Ordinance (Cap. 179), a petition for divorce cannot normally be submitted to a court in Hong Kong until one year after the marriage. However, the above restriction may not apply if there are two exceptions.

  • the divorce applicant or petitioner is facing extreme hardship;
  • or The respondent (the applicant’s or petitioner’s spouse) has behaved in an abnormally corrupt manner.

The judge will consider the interests of any children of the family as defined by section 2 of the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Ordinance, Cap. 192, including children born out of wedlock, before accepting a divorce case where the marriage has not been consummated for 1 year.

The judge will also consider the reasonable possibility of reconciliation before the expiration of one year of marriage.

Divorce petition can be obtained within the day of your visit if the divorce is uncontested and both parties have separated for at least one year.

In law, there is in fact only one ground for presenting a petition for divorce, namely, that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.

Under section 11A of the Matrimonial Causes Ordinance ( Cap. 179 of the Laws of Hong Kong) , except in the case of a Joint Application for divorce, the Court shall not hold the marriage to have broken down irretrievably unless the applicant for divorce (i.e. the petitioner) satisfies the Court of one or more of the following facts:

  1. that your spouse has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with your spouse;
  2. that your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot be reasonably expected to live with your spouse; Usually it is a series of misconducts or intolerable behaviour. However, a single incident of grave misconduct is enough;
  3. that you and your spouse have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 1 year before filing the petition and that your spouse consent to a divorce;
  4. that you and your spouse have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 2 years immediately before filing the petition for divorce (in such a case your spouse’s consent to a divorce is not required);
  5. that your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period of at least 1 year immediately before filing the petition for divorce.

If there are children of the family who are under the age of 18, you must include in your petition your proposal as to their custody and access. If you wish to apply for ancillary relief such as maintenance, transfer of property, division of matrimonial assets, etc., you should also pray so in your petition.

Usually, the simplest method is to apply for unilateral divorce after 2 years of separation, and an absolute divorce decree can be obtained within 9 months.

The alternative solutions could be unreasonable behaviour which is considered to be the second choice for such applications.

Adultery and desertion are more difficult to prove and are not suggested as they are more expensive and time consuming.

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