International divorce: repercussions of Hong Kong decision

by Peter Magee on December 27, 2010

In a recent decision, Hong Kong’s highest court has ruled that husbands and wives should divide their property in property settlement disputes equally in long-term marriages.  This decision is likely to have a substantial impact upon big money cases in Hong Kong which is a popular expatriate working destination. Given Hong Kong’s status as part of China, it also echoes throughout the rest of China for those working there.

The decision puts Hong Kong in line with Britain, where an earlier ruling on asset splitting sparked concern that London would become ‘the divorce capital of the world for aspiring wives’.

These decisions make the choice of jurisdiction and how quickly parties act to choose jurisdiction in such a dispute a crucial tactical decision.  We caution that the details of the judgment in Hong Kong provide scope for short marriages to have a distortion of the split of assets. In another decision where the wife received a third of the marital assets, the court said the result ‘reflects the shortness and relatively unproductive nature of the “three year” marriage’.

If you require advice in relation to a property settlement that has international aspects or where jurisdiction could be an issue, it is essential that you obtain early advice so that you can fully understand your position. You can obtain that advice primarily from us on a non- obligation basis over the phone.

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