Will the UK's own divorce from the European Union -
ending a "marriage" going back to 1973 - affect divorces
at the personal level for those with cross-border financial
interests at stake?
Britain is divorcing the European Union. It has been a long
marriage of 43 years and while the usual 50:50 starting point for
division of assets won't apply in this case, sorting out the
financial split will be no mean feat. While Britain and the EU did
make it past their ruby wedding anniversary, neither party seems to
think there is much to celebrate now. Even though 51.9 per cent of
Brits voted to leave, few seem to be congratulating themselves on a
job well done and the perception emanating from the Land of Hope
and Glory is one of fear and uncertainty. And the unease
doesn't start and end in Britain – Hong Kong is brimming
with people, not least British expatriates, with investments in UK
property and assets. So what will it mean if you decide to HK-exit
Given that family law in Hong Kong largely follows the lead of
England and Wales, Brexit is unlikely to directly impact Hong Kong
divorce law for some time to come. There are no doubt countless
ways in which EU membership has influenced family law-related
legislation and judicial decision making over the years in England
and Wales. However, any social or economic consequences that
Brexiting has for the principles that shape family law will take
some time to filter through into the echelons of the English legal
system. In any event, Hong Kong maintains its autonomy to decide
its own law and, if England and Wales now depart from how the law
has evolved to date, Hong Kong needn't necessarily follow. So
like night follows day, your decree absolute will still follow your
However, the pound plummeted as the votes came in and it is
almost a given that the banking and finance sector will suffer
significant and lasting effects, with another recession on the
cards. As the world discovered during the credit crunch, the domino
effect of such a crisis is long-and-wide-reaching and it is not
just CEOs of investment banks who will feel the ricochets - the
average man on the Clapham omnibus may have a bumpy ride too.
The possible effects should not be overlooked. Are you getting
divorced in Hong Kong but you own property in London? Brexit may
have affected the value of your pad and getting an up-to-date
valuation before signing that financial settlement may be
advisable. Do you intend to move to Cornwall after the divorce for
a fresh start? That cottage by the sea you weren't sure you
could afford out of your settlement, may now be more obtainable if
loan rates fall, as predicted. How about the pension you had
accumulated when you left rainy Wales and moved to what you naively
assumed would be less rainy Hong Kong? Most private pensions will
be tied into long-term investments so if you have some time before
the pension will pay out, the end value may not be significantly
affected. Nonetheless, the value of that pension on the day your
divorce finances are settled may be crucial. And if you had visions
of enjoying your newly single status using your British passport to
live and work in a continental European city, it may not be quite
such a carefree choice anymore, not least because you will no
longer be able to skip the "foreign passports" queue.
Don't let the Brexit divorce make your divorce an
acrimonious one – get advice as to what the practical
considerations for you may be, before you sign on that dotted
The article was originally published online in
Wealthbriefing Asia on 18 July 2016.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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My friend was married to a Muslim man and they had a daughter together before he divorced her. He recently passed away, leaving another daughter from his first wife, whom he divorced before marrying my friend.
On 12 April 2016 the States of Jersey voted to update the Island's customary law and statutory rules governing the administration of property belonging to children.
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