How to Apply for a Divorce pdf version
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.
Jurisdiction in divorce
The court shall have jurisdiction in proceedings for divorce under the Matrimonial Causes Ordinance if-
- (a) either of the parties to the marriage was domiciled in Hong Kong at the date of the petition or application;
- (b) 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; or
- (c) either of the parties to the marriage had a substantial connection with Hong Kong at the date of the petition or application.
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a notice (Form 2E) signed by each of such parties was given to the court and that the notice was not subsequently withdrawn.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
You will particularly need a lawyer in the following
- 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 Legal Aid in Civil Cases" leaflet which
is available at all Courts, Legal Aid Department
office and Public Enquiry Service Centres in District
Offices. Each year, the Law Society of Hong Kong
(Tel: 2846 0500) 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 Centre
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.
Legal Advice Scheme for Unrepresented Litigants on Civil Procedures (Procedural Advice Scheme)
The Procedural Advice Scheme
- provides free legal advice on civil procedural matters for unrepresented litigants who commence or are parties to legal proceedings in the Lands Tribunal, the District Court, the Family Court, the Court of First Instance or the Court of Appeal of the High Court or the Court of Final Appeal (including commencement of proceedings); but not including civil proceedings in other tribunals;
- will not provide advice on merits of cases or act as legal representative;
- operates on a “first-come-first-served” basis.
Service is available for unrepresented litigants who -
- have not been granted legal aid and have not engaged lawyers; and
- satisfy the Procedural Advice Scheme's income eligibility limit* of not exceeding a monthly income of $50,000 or an annual income of $600,000.
* The income of an applicant's spouse, where applicable, will be counted towards the limit, unless the spouse is the opposite party of the proceedings or the applicant and the spouse are living separate and apart.
The Procedural Advice Scheme Office
The contact information of the Procedural Advice Scheme’s Office are as follows –
Room LG217, LG2/F, High Court Building
38 Queensway, Hong Kong.
8:45 am to 1:00 pm
2:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Mondays to Fridays (except public holidays)
Cut-off time for accepting applications for each half day is at 12:30 pm and 5:30 pm respectively.
Enquires: 2259 5017
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
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 Integrated Mediation Office for enquires.
||Room 113, 1/F, Wanchai Tower, 12 Harbour Road,
||Wanchai, Hong Kong
||2180 8066 (For enquiry of Mediation Service only)
What forms do I have to fill in ?
Petition for divorce
To start a petition, you need to fill in:
||Statement as to the arrangements for children (if applicable)
||Notice of Proceedings
||Acknowledgement of Service (case number and name of parties only)
||Statement of Truth
||Petitioner's Certificate as to Family Mediation
In the case of a joint application, you need to fill in:
||Statement as to the arrangements for children (if applicable)
||Statement of Truth
||Joint Applicants' Certificate as to Family Mediation
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:
|Special procedure list
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.
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 inspect 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.
|i) Pronouncement of decree nisi - from setting down for trial to actual hearing
|- Special Procedure List
|- Defended List (all hearing)
|ii) Financial applications - from setting down to hearing (1-day hearing)
- 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. If a full response cannot be given within 30 days, we will give you a further interim reply with a brief explanation.
- 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.
Family Court Registry and Accounts Office
|Monday to Friday
||8:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
||2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
(Closed on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays)