12 Jan 2021 by Kimberly Ann Dasse

[Matrimonial FAQ] Considering Divorce

At JC Legal, we take pride in serving matrimonial clients from a variety of backgrounds.  In our experience, no matter where you come from or your financial situation, when it comes to divorce, the questions are often the same for everyone.

What are the grounds of divorce in Hong Kong?

There is only one ground for divorce:  that the “marriage has broken down irretrievably”.  To prove this ground, a party must establish at least one of five facts:

  1. Unreasonable behaviour;
  2. One-year separation with consent;
  3. Two-year separation;
  4. Desertion; or
  5. Adultery.

Most of the time, folks choose to go with an unreasonable behaviour petition and cite what are called “mild particulars” in the petition, such as lack of communication, growing apart, etc.

My spouse cheated on me–can I sue for divorce based on adultery?

Yes, but it is expensive, requires naming the third party, and very likely a trial. Instead, consider an “unreasonable behaviour” petition. Keep in mind that there is no financial benefit to proving adultery, so it is, generally speaking, not worth the expense.  Better to say good-bye and spend your money and time on a good settlement.

My partner and I have lived apart for one year and now want to divorce, what can we do?

When parties have lived apart for one year and both agree to get divorced, a petition alleging one-year separation with consent can be filed or a joint application.

My partner and I have lived apart for two years and are now getting around to divorcing, what can we do?When parties have lived apart for two years or more, one side can file a petition alleging two-year separation.  The agreement of the other spouse is not needed to file this petition.  Another option is to file a joint application.

My spouse and I have separated but are still living in the same flat for cost reasons.  Can we still divorce?Yes, but you will have to explain the arrangement.  It is preferable that you and your spouse live in separate sections of the home and not in the same room or bed.  The primary concern is that the divorce be a genuine one.

My partner has gotten physical with me, what can I do about it?If you are a victim of domestic violence and your situation is urgent, call the police for assistance.  For non-urgent situations, there are a number of orders available to protect you and your family.  We have listed a number of resources on our website to assist.

As a gay couple, what rights do we have to divorce in Hong Kong?Gay marriage has not been recognised in Hong Kong, although gay couples have been granted more rights in recent years.  If your relationship is breaking down, we suggest that you seek legal advice from a Hong Kong solicitor to learn more about your options.

I cannot afford to hire a solicitor, what are my options?In Hong Kong, people who are unable to hire a solicitor can seek assistance from Legal Aid, who will ask the applicant to provide financial information to demonstrate their financial need.  If the applicant qualifies, Legal Aid will finance the applicant’s matter.  This money must be paid back.

Facing a break-up of your marriage?  Have questions on a custody matter?  Need some assistance in family estate planning?  Make an appointment with me for a free, confidential consultation.  JC Legal can help.

This summary is for information purposes only. Its contents do not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for detailed advice in individual cases. Transmission of this information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between JC Legal and the user or browser. JC Legal is not responsible for any third-party content which can be accessed through the hyperlink provided in this summary.