Hong Kong and China agree mutual cross-border recognition of divorces and family judgments

Thursday, 16 September 2021
An ordinance introducing mutual recognition of matrimonial and family judgments between mainland China and Hong Kong will come into operation on 15 February 2022.
Hong Kong

Hong Kong's Mainland Judgments in Matrimonial and Family Cases (Reciprocal Recognition and Enforcement) Ordinance provides three main areas of reciprocal recognition or enforcement. A party to a mainland judgment given in a matrimonial or family case regarding care, status or maintenance can apply to the Hong Kong District Court to register an order enforcing it. The Hong Kong court will also recognise a divorce specified in a valid mainland divorce certificate if requested by a party to the divorce.

Lastly, a party to an effective Hong Kong judgment given in a matrimonial or family case can apply to the relevant Hong Kong court for a certified copy of the judgment, for the purpose of having the judgment recognised and enforced in mainland China. This applies to divorce decrees, family judgments or orders for the maintenance, transfer or sale of property or for the custody or wardship of a child.

Cross-border marriages and asset accumulation are continuing to increase, says Hong Kong law firm Deacons, and the new procedures will be especially important in cases involving third-party interests and attempts to defeat financial provision claims under section 17 of the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Ordinance. Schedule 3 of the new Ordinance specifically provides that it covers maintenance, transfer or sale of property orders under Part II and Part IIA of the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Ordinance, says the firm.

The Ordinance will improve collaboration between Hong Kong and courts in mainland China, giving parties involved in cross-border marriages more certainty in enforcing judgments across the two jurisdictions, Deacons says.


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