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Hong Kong/China marriage...and divorce

Hong Kong/China marriage...and divorce

Instead of Hong Kong men looking for brides in China, today it is Hong Kong career women who are marrying men from China.

Reasons for marriage

Educated Hong Kong women are attracted to the “three highs” in successful Chinese men: high education, high position at work and high income.

Official figures show women are marrying Chinese men later in life, suggesting that they have started a career. There is a steady trend of marriage postponement among women generally, from an average of age 26 in 1991 to 29 in 2013.

Divorce Complications

This is all well and good, of course, except that the divorce rate rose fourfold from 1991 to 2013 and cross-border divorces are fraught with difficulties. The couple will often have property in both jurisdictions, will hold ID cards and have a legal connection with both jurisdictions, and children who are born in Hong Kong often actually live in China, and vice versa. There are different rules relating to the division of property, disclosure of assets, and enforcement of legal rulings.

Hong Kong women who marry Chinese men should be wary of the potential pitfalls should their marriage founder.  For example, in Hong Kong all assets are “in the pot” for division, including premarital assets, so the chances of a woman’s earnings prior to marriage being taken into account and shared is high.

In contrast, in China there is no equal division of property per se. Joint property is an asset (including bank accounts) which is owned by both parties and was acquired during the marriage; separate property includes premarital property and property gifted specifically to one party, and does not form part of the marital pot. The matrimonial home is regarded as joint property but contributions to the purchase prior to the marriage will be taken into account.

There are pros and cons to getting divorced in either jurisdiction, but one thing is certain, a cross- border dispute is an expensive way to resolve the problems arising from the breakdown of a marriage.  That's something the rising number of Hong Kong women looking over the border for a partner should bear that in mind. 

Source: South China Morning Post, by Rita Ku