2. Can I get a divorce in Hong Kong? What conditions do I need to comply with?
You should note the following items (a) to (c) before presenting a divorce petition to the Court.
a. Place of marriage
The place of marriage is not of main concern. Provided that your marriage was validly constituted in the country where the marriage was celebrated, and the validity of your marriage can be proved, then subject to the following factors, you can apply for divorce in the Court of Hong Kong.
b. Conditions to comply with
One of the following conditions must be satisfied before an application or petition for divorce can be dealt with by a Hong Kong Court:
- either of the parties to the marriage was domiciled in Hong Kong on the date of the petition or application;
- either of the parties to the marriage was habitually resident in Hong Kong throughout a period of 3 years immediately preceding the date of the petition or application; or
- either of the parties to the marriage had a “substantial connection” with Hong Kong on the date of the petition or application.
It is pertinent to note that whether a “substantial connection” exists will depend on all the circumstances of each case, including but not limited to, the length of time the parties have lived in Hong Kong prior to their application for divorce, how long they intend to stay in Hong Kong, whether the parties have employment in Hong Kong, and whether they have acquired assets or taken a lease of property in the territory.
c. Length of marriage － the “one year rule”
In general, subject to the following exceptions, no petition for divorce could be presented to a Hong Kong Court before the expiration of the period of 1 year from the date of the marriage ( section 12 of the Matrimonial Causes Ordinance , Cap. 179 ).
There are 2 possible exceptions to this “one year rule”:
- exceptional hardship being suffered by the petitioner (“petitioner” being the applicant or the party presenting the petition for divorce); or
- exceptional depravity on the part of the respondent (“respondent” being the applicant's spouse / petitioner's spouse).
However, in determining the application for divorce before the expiration of the period of 1 year from the date of the marriage, the Court shall have regard to the interests of any child of the family within the meaning of section 2 of the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Ordinance, Cap. 192 (which can also include a child who is not the natural child of one of the parties to the marriage) and to the question whether there is reasonable probability of a reconciliation between the parties during the remaining period before one year has expired.