HONG KONG: Court issues historic ruling: divorcing couples to share assets equally

HONG KONG: Apparently Hong Kong has traditionally been an equitable distribution state as opposed to a community property state. But “equitable” as defined by the courts of Hong Kong has traditionally meant that stay at home wives and mothers would get a meager share of the family assets since they did not “contribute financially” to the marriage. However, that may all be a thing of the past. This week, the courts made a ruling that where there is a marriage of long duration, and one that is “productive” to boot, both spouses shall share equally in the marital res. The Bangkok Post:

Divorce in Hong Kong now means equal split of assets

Hong Kong’s highest court has ordered that divorced couples must split their assets equally, a landmark ruling for the financial hub which could impact heavily on “big money” divorce cases. Hong Kong’s highest court has ordered that divorced couples must split their assets equally, a landmark ruling for the financial hub which could impact heavily on “big money” divorce cases. Non-working spouses in Hong Kong, usually women, have traditionally been left with far less than half a couple’s assets after they divorce, a key issue in the glitzy metropolis known for its super-rich. “It’s a landmark ruling,” lawyer Peter Barnes, who represented the ex-wife in the test case on which the court ruled on Friday, told AFP. “Any remnants of discrimination against non-earning persons, usually being the wife, are now being firmly washed away,” he added. Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal ruled that Barnes’ client, an unidentified 47-year-old, was entitled to half of her ex-husband’s assets, or about 2.68 million Hong Kong dollars (345,000 US dollars). The decision upheld a lower court judgement in 2008. The woman had successfully appealed against a 2006 court ruling which granted her just one third of the couple’s assets.

Not to be carried away, however, the court made clear that where a marriage is short and unproductive, an equal split of the assets will not be ordered.
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