1. Is there any age restriction for marriage in Hong Kong?
The minimum age for marriage in Hong Kong is 16. However, if either party is over 16, but still under 21, and is not a widow or widower, written consent to the marriage is required. The written consent is usually provided by a parent or guardian.
Any person, minister or civil celebrant who, knowing that a written consent from the proper person has not been obtained, marries or assists or procures any other person to marry a person under the age of 21 years who is not a widow or widower commits an offence and shall be liable to a fine and imprisonment.
For more details, please go to Matrimonial Matters > Marriage and co-habitant issues > An overview .
2. My wife is an Australian. I want her to come to Hong Kong and live with me. What do I have to do?
For spouses from overseas (other than Mainland China), if they wish to enter Hong Kong to reside, they need to apply for a dependant visa. They must show that they are dependants of their spouses who are either Hong Kong permanent resident or a resident who is not subject to a limit of stay (i.e. a resident with the right to land or on unconditional stay).
The following conditions must be satisfied for a successful dependant visa application:
- Reasonable proof of a genuine relationship between the applicant ("dependant") and the spouse residing in Hong Kong ("sponsor");
- the applicant should be of clear criminal records and raise no security or criminal concerns for the HKSAR;
- the sponsor can substantially support the dependant and provide suitable accommodation during his/her stay in Hong Kong.
For more details, please refer to Matrimonial Matters > Marriage and co-habitant issues > Marrying non-HK residents .
3. I got married in the Mainland China a few years ago but my husband has left me and disappeared. I want to marry another man in Hong Kong now. Is there any risk that I may be committing bigamy?
If you got married in Mainland China, as long as the divorce process is not completed and your status is not “single”, then you cannot get married again in Hong Kong.
Vice versa, if the party originally got married in Hong Kong but is getting married again in the Mainland or overseas, albeit undergoing divorce proceedings at the time the party gets married (assuming the proceedings are not yet completed), the said party commits bigamy.
Any person who, being married, marries any other person during the life of the former husband or wife shall be guilty of an offence triable upon indictment, and shall be liable to imprisonment for seven years.
For more about bigamy, please visit Matrimonial Matters > Marriage and co-habitant issues > Bigamy .
4. I suspect that my wife is having an affair with another man. Can this be a reason for divorce?
Adultery is one of the reasons a party can use to prove that the marriage has broken down irretrievably, which is the legal grounds for divorce in Hong Kong. You have to establish the fact of adultery. You have to show that your wife has committed adultery, and you find it intolerable to live with her. However, if you and your wife continue to live together for more than six months following the act of adultery, you will not be entitled to rely on the fact of adultery. Besides, you must have certain knowledge that adultery has occurred, not only a belief that there has been adultery.
To know more about this, please go to Matrimonial Matters > Marriage and co-habitant issues > Adultery .
5. I am a woman cohabitating with my boyfriend. We have no plans of getting married. Would this jeopardize us in the legal sense?
Unmarried cohabitant couples do not have the legal status of married couples because they do not enjoy the benefits attached to married couples, which include tax, pension, medical and public housing benefits. The most important fact is that, regardless of how long the cohabitants have been living together, cohabitant couples are not recognized as married couples under the law. Thus, cohabitant couples fall outside the scope of the rights enjoyed by many married people.
If you want to know more, please refer to Matrimonial Matters > Marriage and co-habitant issues > Cohabitation .
6. I am getting married very soon. My father is very rich and he does not trust my fiancée. He has suggested me to make a nuptial agreement with my fiancée. What is a nuptial agreement?
Agreements made between couples before or after marriage are known as nuptial agreements. Nuptial agreements are contracts, entered into by couples, which determine the rights and obligations of each of them in the event their marriage fails. Premarital agreements are drawn up and signed before marriage, while post-marital agreements are made during the marriage. Post-marital agreements can be made either while the couple is still together, or when they separate. Post-marital agreements entered into during separation are known as “separation agreements”.
The content of nuptial agreements normally include terms for
- division of property
- maintenance for support of a spouse
- other financial arrangements such as trusts, company share transfers etc.
More complex agreements may arise where specific terms for a financial award result in the breakdown of the marriage.
For more about nuptial agreements, please visit Matrimonial Matters > Marriage and co-habitant issues > Nuptial agreements.
7. Do nuptial agreements have any legal status?
Nuptial agreements, other than separation agreements, are not as a general rule considered binding in the usual contractual sense in law in Hong Kong. There is no specific legislation concerning nuptial agreements, and not many court cases have addressed the topic of nuptial agreements.
However, such agreements (not being separation agreements) could be taken into account when deciding the outcome in divorce proceedings in Hong Kong courts involving ancillary relief and division of financial assets under the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Ordinance as “circumstances of the case” or “conduct”, and may be upheld in part or in whole.
When the court needs to determine whether or not to make an order in accordance with a nuptial agreement, the question of fairness is a key issue. As ruled in an English case, nuptial agreement should be given effect (that is, enforced) if it was “freely entered into by each party with a full appreciation of its implications unless in the circumstances prevailing, it would not be fair to hold the parties to their agreement.” This principle was followed in Hong Kong.
On the other hand, according to the Matrimonial Property and Proceedings Ordinance, separation agreements (agreements entered between couples once they have separated or on the occasion of their separation) are valid contracts.
To understand more about this, please visit Matrimonial Matters > Marriage and co-habitant issues > Nuptial agreements.