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·Home >> Divorce Law of Hong Kong and Twaiwan

How to Apply for a Divorce in Hong Kong
Add Date:2009-1-13      
How do I get a divorce?
How soon after marriage can I petition for divorce?
Must I explain why I want a divorce?
Will I need a lawyer?
Can I seek family mediation?
What forms do I have to fill in?
How will my petition be served on my spouse?
What should I do after filing a petition or joint application?
What happens next?
When will my divorce become final?
Can I see the court records of my case?
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How to contact us?
Business Hours
 
 
HOW TO APPLY FOR A DIVORCE
 
How do I get a divorce?
 
If you are petitioning for divorce on your own account, fill in a petition form and take it personally to the Family Court Registry, M2, Wanchai Law Courts, Wanchai Tower, 12 Harbour Road, Hong Kong.
 
If you and your spouse have agreed to jointly apply to the court, you should together fill in a joint application form and submit it as above.
 
 
 
 
 
How soon after marriage can I petition for divorce?
 
Unless the court allows otherwise, you can start a petition for divorce only if you have been married for at least 1 year.
 
 
 
 
 
Must I explain why I want a divorce?
 
You must be able to prove that you have reasons (or "grounds") for saying that the marriage is at an end. The term the court uses is "the marriage has irretrievably broken down".
 
The court will accept one or more of the following grounds as proof:
 
that your spouse has committed adultery and that you find it intolerable to live with him / her
that your spouse has behaved in such a way that you cannot be reasonably expected to live with him / her
that you and your spouse have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 1 year before filing the petition and that he / she agrees to a divorce
that you and your spouse have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 2 years before filing the petition (in such a case your spouse's consent to a divorce is not required)
that your spouse has deserted you for a continuous period of at least 1 year before filing the petition
In the case of a joint application, you and your spouse must prove to the court (a) that you have lived apart from each other for a continuous period of at least 1 year before making the application; or (b) that not less than 1 year prior to the making of the application a notice (Form 2E) signed by each of such parties was given to the court and that the notice was not subsequently withdrawn.
 
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.
 
 
 
 
Will I need a lawyer?
 
Submitting a petition or joint application for divorce puts legal proceedings in motion, so you will find it helpful to seek legal advice before any submission is made.
 
You will particularly need a lawyer in the following circumstances:
 
your spouse does not agree to a divorce
neither of you can agree on the arrangements to be made for the children or on financial matters
In seeking legal advice, you may wish to take advantage of the Legal Aid Scheme administered by the Legal Aid Department (Tel: 2537 7677) or alternatively choose your own solicitor. For details, please refer to the "How to apply for Legal Aid in Civil Cases" leaflet which is available at all Courts, Legal Aid Department office and Public Enquiry Service Centres of District Offices. Each year, the Law Society of Hong Kong publishes a Directory of Hong Kong Law Firms, which includes a list of firms handling matrimonial cases. This directory can be consulted in Public Enquiry Service Centres of District Offices, public libraries and at the office of the Law Society of Hong Kong.
 
Please note that while the staff of the Family Court Registry will seek to give you every assistance relating to divorce procedures, they are not lawyers and they are not permitted to offer legal advice.
 
The Duty Lawyer Service's free Legal Advice Scheme provides members of the public with preliminary legal advice including matrimonial law in District Offices.
 
 
 
 
Can I seek family mediation?
 
Family mediation is a problem-solving process designed to help couples who are divorcing or separating reach their own mutually acceptable agreements about ongoing arrangements for their children and / or how to resolve financial matters.
 
It is a voluntary process in which a specially trained, impartial third person, the mediator, seeks to help both sides to communicate effectively and to negotiate issues in dispute, all in a completely confidential setting. You can contact the Mediation Co-ordinator's Office for enquiries.
 
 
 
What forms do I have to fill in?
 
Petition for divorce
To start a petition, you need to fill in:
 
Form 2  Petition
Form 2B  Statement as to the arrangements for children (if applicable) 
Form 3
 Notice of Proceedings
Form 4  Acknowledgement of Service (case number and name of parties only)
 
Joint Application
In the case of a joint application, you need to fill in:
 
Form 2C  Joint application 
Form 2D  Statement as to the arrangements for children (if applicable) 
 
All forms you need are available from the Family Court Registry and may be completed in English or Chinese. When you have filled them in, take them to the Family Court Registry for filing, together with your original marriage certificate or a certified true copy. The filing fee is $630. You will be given a case number, which must be marked on any subsequently filed documents.
 
 
 
 
 
How will my petition be served on my spouse?
 
Now that legal proceedings have started, you are known as the "petitioner" and your spouse is known as the "respondent". After filing your petition, you must arrange for a sealed copy of it to be served on every other party to the proceedings, either by hand or by post. Note that you must not serve the petition yourself on the respondent. Instead you must use the services of a third person or send the petition by post. (In the case of joint applications, there is no need to arrange for service on the other party.)
 
 
 
 
What should I do after filing a petition or joint application?
 
You should next apply to the Registrar for directions to set down the case for trial, using an application form obtainable from the Family Court Registry. Your petition or application will be set down for hearing in one of the following lists:
 
List  Fee
Special procedure list $630
Defended list $1,045
 
Where a petition is concerned, before the case can be set down the Registrar must be satisfied that the petition has been served on the respondent. This can be proved either by showing that respondent has completed and returned to the Registrar a Form 4, or by having the person who served the documents on the respondent file an affirmation to that effect. Joint applications will be set down provided that the relevant documents are in order.
 
The Registrar will make directions on the date, place and time of trial and will notify you and the other parties.
 
 
 
What happens next?
 
Special Procedure List
 
If you have petitioned for divorce but the respondent does not file an answer, the petition will be set down in the Special Procedure List. Joint applications also come under the Special Procedure List.
 
After the Registrar has given directions for trial, he will consider the evidence you have filed. If he is satisfied that you have proved the contents of the petition or application, he will make and file a certificate to that effect. Both parties will receive a copy, endorsed with the terms they have agreed.
 
There is no need for either party to attend the hearing. The court will grant a decree nisi dissolving the marriage.
 
Defended List
Where the petition for divorce is made and the respondent has filed an answer, the cause will be set down in the Defended List. In such cases, the court will either grant a decree nisi dissolving the marriage or will dismiss the petition if insufficient evidence is found. In the event of court granting the decree of divorce, if there are children of the family whose question of custody and access need to be dealt with by the court, or if there are applications for ancillary relief by either party, the court will adjourn these matters to Chambers with directions for social investigations report and filing of affidavit of means by the parties where appropriate.
 
 
 
When will my divorce become final?
 
Six weeks after the court has granted a decree nisi, you can apply for your decree to be made absolute by sending to the court a completed "Notice of Application for Decree Nisi to be made Absolute", using Form 5 (for a petition) or Form 5A (for a joint application).
 
If there are children of the marriage, the court has a duty to consider the arrangements for their welfare, even if the children are over 18 but are still receiving full-time education. The decree nisi will not be made absolute until the court is satisfied with the arrangements for them.
 
The Registrar will issue a Certificate of Decree Absolute to each party if he is satisfied that the statutory requirements have been complied with.
 
 
 
Can I see the court records of my case?
 
Either party can inspect the court records of their case at the Registry on payment of the prescribed fee of $18.
 
 
 
 
Performance Pledge
 
  Waiting Time
i) Dissolution of marriage - from setting down for trial to actual hearing
  
- Special Procedure List
 50 days
- Defended List (1-day hearing)
 110 days
ii) Financial applications - from filing of summons to hearing (1-day hearing)
 110-140 days
 
Wherever possible, the Judiciary will reply at once to correspondence from members of the public. In any case, we will issue an interim reply within 10 days and a full response within 30 days of receiving such correspondence.
We welcome all comments and suggestions for improving our services. Please send them to the Judiciary Administrator at the High Court, 38 Queensway, Hong Kong.
 
 
How to contact us?
 
Business Hours
 
Family Court Registry and Accounts Office
 
Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
  2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon
 
Proceedings in the Family Court will be adjourned and the Registry and Accounts Office will close when tropical cyclone signal No. 8 or a black rainstorm warning is issued.
Proceedings will resume and the offices will open as usual in the morning if such signal or warning is cancelled before 6:00 a.m.
Proceedings will resume and the offices will open at 2:30 p.m. if such signal or warning is cancelled between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.
Proceedings will remain adjourned and offices will remain closed for the whole day if such signal or warning is cancelled after 10:00 a.m.
If the hearing of your case is affected as the result of a tropical cyclone or rainstorm, please listen to radio and television announcements about re-opening times, or call the Family Court Registry for enquiries.
 
 

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