Leading family lawyer Sharon Ser, alongside professional support
lawyer Philippa Hewitt, have recently contributed a chapter on Hong
Kong family law to a new guide comparing family law around the
As family law becomes increasingly international, it is not
uncommon to see cases involving two or more jurisdictions. Whether
that be by virtue of marital assets or the movement of children.
With over 19 jurisdictions, this new book provides an overview of
family law including the procedure for divorce and treatment of
cohabitants. The comparison covers England and Wales and Hong Kong
– two key locations for the Withers family team.
Not surprisingly, Hong Kong has the most common ground with
England and Wales and Singapore, as they share a common history,
particularly England where the wording of some statutes are
identical. There are also similar provisions in Singapore's
Women's Charter and Malaysia's Law of Reform (Marriage and
Divorce) Act 1976 to our matrimonial legislation. In Malaysia this
Act only applies to non- Muslims (Muslims, the majority of the
population, being subject to Sharia law. There are also separate
courts in Singapore). In the Asian countries featured here, marital
agreements are generally not enforceable unless approved by the
court, although in Hong Kong the English case of Radmacher
is now good law and therefore greater weight will be given to such
an agreement. In none of these Asian jurisdictions are same sex
marriages recognised and none have provision for civil
partnerships. Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan are also now members
of the Hague Convention.
Hong Kong appears to be unique in its provision that parties can
cite a 'substantial connection' in order to issue
proceedings here. The courts have stressed that it is not their
intention to create a convenient 'offshore divorce
jurisdiction' but recognition was given to the fact that Hong
Kong is home to many families who may only be settled here for a
relatively short period of time.
With all of our lawyers acting for international clients, and in
multiple jurisdictions – this invaluable publication is
available in book form or online.
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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