Hong Kong laws allow its citizens and foreigners to petition for a divorce as long as anyone of the parties is able to show “substantial connection” to the city-state. Hongkong requires that at least one of the parties be a resident, meaning that one spouse has lived there for at least three months. A longer residency is required in some cases.
Also, the marriage should have lasted for at least a year before a petition for divorce can be filed to dissolve it. Irretrievable breakdown of marriage must likewise be proved by the parties in order to warrant a divorce from the courts. Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage may be proved by any of the following conditions:
- Inexcusable or unreasonable behavior of one party which makes living with him or her impossible;
- Desertion of one party of the other for a continuous period of at least a year;
- Separation of the parties for at least two years.
The petition for divorce must also include the proposal for the custody, visitation and support of common children who are under 18 years of age. All other ancillary reliefs like spousal alimony and division of marital property must be prayed for in the same petition.
Recognition of foreign divorce of Hongkong citizens
Only recently, Hongkong introduced amendments to their family laws allowing financial relief to a citizen or resident who has been granted a divorce, annulment or legal separation from a court outside Hongkong. Leave of court is necessary before an application for financial relief is made. The court will grant the leave only if it finds a substantial ground for the financial relief sought by the citizen or resident. These grounds include domiciliary of the party in Hongkong, or habitual residence in Hongkong for three years, or a substantial connection with Hongkong either on the date of application for leave or on the date when the foreign divorce, annulment or legal separation took effect.
Recognition of Thai divorce for Hongkong Citizens
Divorce in Thailand may be uncontested/administrative or contested or judicial. As there is nothing in Hongkong Family laws which clearly provide which type of divorce it will recognize, it is assumed that Hongkong citizens may apply for either type of divorce in Thailand, provided that they comply with the requisites under Thai law.
If a Hongkong citizen is granted divorce in Thailand, he or she may bring the decree back to his state and petition for the recognition of the financial aspect of the decree, as well as the ancillary issues of alimony and marital property distribution.