Hong Kong Divorce x Ritzy Hong Kong – Ritzy Chat: Caroline Choi, Founder of Hong Kong Divorce

Hong Kong Divorce was recently featured in Ritzy Hong Kong’s Ritzy Chat Column.  Here’s a look at our Feature Article!

Founder of Hong Kong Divorce, Caroline Choi

Caroline Choi, Founder of Hong Kong Divorce, understands how difficult it can be to deal with divorce in Hong Kong. Today, she shares with us her views and the ways to make life easier in the midst of the time-consuming process.

1. Can you tell us what Hong Kong Divorce does?

hongkongdivorce.com is a free educational tool and resource for individuals struggling to navigate divorce in Hong Kong. They can find all the answers they need to assist them in navigating through the complexities of divorce and matrimonial proceedings in Hong Kong. It aims to set out in simple terms what one can expect to encounter in the run-up to a divorce, and during the long and sometimes complicated process that may follow. The platform provides the public with easily accessible information related to every aspect of divorce and clarifies how the divorce process works. Its mission is to provide a concise and clear overview of the law, answer common queries and provide general support to those in need. Having said that, to be clear, it does not provide legal advice. We always advise them to seek independent legal advice from their solicitors.

2. What are the most common barriers that individuals in Hong Kong face when dealing with divorce?

Divorce is not easy in general. It becomes increasingly difficult because the Court system in Hong Kong is backed up and the divorce process requires a lot of patience and time for progress to be made. Many individuals want a resolution right away but getting involved in the Court system is already difficult and it just becomes exceptionally difficult if you and your former spouse do not get along and require the Family Court in Hong Kong to make decisions for you.

Founder of Hong Kong Divorce, Caroline ChoiFounder of Hong Kong Divorce, Caroline ChoiFounder of Hong Kong Divorce, Caroline Choi

3. It can be painful to deal with divorce but do you agree that every cloud has a silver lining?

Yes of course. Divorce can be painful and many liken divorce to a death in family. However, I always remind those going through a divorce that it is not the end but rather a beginning to new things.  The “new” normal can be healthier and bring you even more joy than whatever circumstance/situation you were in previously.  After all, to get to a healthier place, you have to go through the divorce process and resolve it.

4. What is the most important thing you want to tell the individuals who are now struggling to deal with their divorce?

It is important to surround yourself with your loved ones including family and friends.  Having supportive people around you will lift you up during the difficult times in a divorce. One more thing, you should have a mindset of collaboration, especially if you have children. Having a collaborative mindset will go a long way as you and your former spouse will need to support each other for the sake of your children and it will make the divorce process much easier.

5. How do you make yourself happy and ritzy in life?

Similar to my advice above, I like to surround myself with loyal, trustworthy and supportive family and friends. The good people you surround yourself with are so important and investing in those relationships makes me happier.


To find out more about Caroline, please click here.

Spotlight Profile – Dr. Cheung Ching Ping, Dennis, Psychiatrist

In this spotlight profile, we are speaking to Dr. Dennis Cheung, a specialist in psychiatry and medical director at HealthyMind Centre, based in Hong Kong.  Dr. Cheung is also the founding director of Healthykiddo, a charitable organization, aiming at helping kids with special needs. Apart from that, Dr. Cheung is also a clinical honorary assistant professor at Department of Psychiatry, HKU.

Dr. Cheung, thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. 

Can you tell us a little bit about your background and training?

I was born and raised in a grassroots family. My parents had devoted their entire life to improve the living conditions of the family. Their hardwork provided a positive role model for myself and the family.. With plenty of effort, I managed to get admitted to the medical school of Hong Kong University in 2003, in the year of SARS. After graduation, I chose to continue with specialist training in psychiatry. When comparing to other specialties, I realized that psychiatrists spend much more time understanding the patient as a whole, rather than focusing on a specific pathogen or specific part of the body.

During my service in the public sector, I obtained broad exposure to various psychiatric services, including general adult, child and adolescent, substance abuse, psychogeriatric and psychiatric rehabilitation services. I am now a Fellow of The Hong Kong College of Psychiatrists and a Fellow of the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine in the specialty of Psychiatry.  I am also a specialist in psychiatry with The Medical Council of Hong Kong.

I started private practice in 2017 with the clinic name “HealthyMind Centre”, hoping to help more people achieve a “healthier mind”. I believe psychiatric treatment is not only about medication, but should be more comprehensive. I thus invited some other professionals like clinical psychologists, family therapists, TMS specialists and counsellors  to join me and I formed a team to help with those in need.

We are seeing a lot more individuals willing to speak about self-care and the need to take care of their mental health especially with all the challenges individuals face on a day-to-day basis.  Can you tell us about some of the key struggles/issues you are witnessing with your clients in Hong Kong? 

Absolutely. It’s great to see a growing awareness of the importance of mental health and self-care.

In Hong Kong, one of the biggest challenges I have seen among clients is the high stress levels that come with the fast-paced and competitive nature of the city. Many people struggle to find a balance between work, family and personal life, which can lead to burnout, sleep problems, anxiety and depression. Many clients are experiencing significant amounts of stress from different aspects, such as work, study, relationship or family issues and they do not have enough capacity or resources to handle it. It is important for individuals to prioritize their mental health and seek out support whenever necessary.

What advice do you provide for those struggling through mental health issues?

In Hong Kong, according to the latest survey, 1 in 7 people in Hong Kong are having a mental health issue. Mental health problem are not uncommon. Dealing with mental health issues can be challenging, but it is important to remember that help is always available. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Seek professional help: If you are struggling with mental health issues, it is essential to seek professional help. Delay in seeking support might make the condition even worse. Consider seeing a therapist, a counselor, or a family doctor if you are not sure how severe your condition is or who to approach.
  2. Self-care: Self-care can assist in managing many mental health issues. Ensure that you are getting enough rest, exercising regularly and making time for activities that you enjoy.
  3. Connect with others: Isolation can worsen the symptoms of many mental illnesses. Connect with close friends or family, join a support group or even try some volunteer works might help ease some of the sufferings or symptoms.

Are there are a lot of resources available for individuals who are struggling mentally and emotionally? Where can these individuals reach out for help?

There are many resources available for individuals who are struggling mentally and emotionally. One good place to start is by contacting a social worker or your family doctor. They can help guide you to the appropriate resources and support in your community. Additionally, many non-profit organizations and support groups exist to help individuals who are struggling with mental health issues. It’s important to remember that seeking help can be difficult, but it is a brave and important step towards better mental health.

Do you work with clients/patients who are struggling with divorce and the breakdown of the family unit?

I do work with clients who are struggling with divorce matters or breakdown of the family unit. They are mostly presented with different mood problems or sleeping issues. Sometimes, it is the children who are having  adjustment issues. Divorce and the breakdown of the family unit can be incredibly challenging experiences, often resulting in significant emotional distress for those involved. It is important for individuals going through a divorce or experiencing family conflict to find appropriate support. It is also important to remember that, while these situations may be difficult, there are often ways to find positive outcomes and work towards healing and growth.

For those struggling with a divorce, what would you suggest they do to move forward and find hope in such a dark period of their lives?

Divorce can be an incredibly difficult and painful experience, but it is important to remember that you can rebuild and find hope, even in the midst of the darkness. Here are some suggestions for moving forward:

  1. Take time for self-care: Prioritize your own physical and emotional health by engaging in regular exercise, practicing mindfulness, and joining activities that you enjoy.
  2. Seek out support: Talk to your trusted friends or your family members regarding your difficulties, or seeking help from local support groups. It is important to have a support system to turn to during this challenging time.
  3. Allow yourself to grieve: Divorce often comes with a sense of loss, and it is important to allow yourself the time and space to grieve that loss.
  4. Stay positive and hopeful: Remember that this is a transitional period, and that you have the power to create a new future for yourself. Keep a positive outlook and focus on the possibilities ahead.


About Dr. Cheung Ching Ping, Dennis, Medical Director and Psychiatrist at HealthyMind

Dr. Cheung Ching Ping, Dennis, Medical Director and PsychiatristDr. Dennis Cheung is a specialist in psychiatry and medical director at HealthyMind Centre, based in Hong Kong.  Dr. Cheung is also the founding director of Healthykiddo, a charitable organization, aiming at helping kids with special needs. Apart from that, Dr. Cheung is also a clinical honorary assistant professor at Department of Psychiatry, HKU.

For more information regarding HealthyMind Centre, you can visit: https://www.healthymindhk.com/

For more information regarding Healthkiddo, you can visit: https://www.healthykidhk.org/

Co-Parenting After Summer Holidays and Returning to the New School Term

After an enjoyable summer holiday and returning to the new school term, now may be an opportune time to review your child custody arrangement and ensure that everything is in order ahead of the new school term.

Here are a few things to consider as you and your co-parent begin to navigate the children’s new school term.

  1. Review Your Agreement/Orders: After your holidays and before the new school term, you and your co-parent should sit down and review the custody arrangement for the upcoming year and ensure that you are both on the same page. This is an opportune time to check your calendars and make sure that things are aligned with the school term calendar and that there is no misunderstanding about the holidays/breaks and any other special occasions that will require child sharing between you and your co-parent.  By doing this, you avoid any potential future arguments you and your co-parent may have before a big holiday and/or before a special event.  This initial step ensures that you and your co-parent are in communication and things are running smoothly throughout the entire co-parenting journey.
  2. Communicate with your Co-Parent: We like to always repeat this step because it is the foundation of any good co-parenting relationship. This is the time when your emotions should be put aside and the focus should remain on the children and their best interests. Thus, the key is to communicate effectively and with as much respect as possible. Respectful communication does not include controlling, manipulative, aggressive behaviour displayed through verbal communication, text messages and/or email communication.  Careful consideration should be given to your tone and how you speak to one another as well.  The goal for both co-parents is to raise a happy, healthy child and this should be the main focus when communicating with each other.
  3. Respect Each Other’s Parenting Style and Rules: Whilst you and your co-parent may not always agree on parenting style or house rules, it is important that you respect each other’s differences.  It is during these moments of key differences that you and your co-parent need to sit down and discuss how you want to raise your children and how you can both reconcile the differences you may have in your parenting styles and in the rules that you both may have at each of your homes. You cannot expect your co-parent to enforce the rules you keep at your home but you can sit down and speak with each other about what you can and can’t come to an agreement on when it comes to more important and key issues.  For example, you and your co-parent may not agree on screen-time that is allowed in the home. Whilst you cannot force your co-parent to enforce your own rules, you can try to come to an agreement that is agreeable to both.  However, there will be many times where you simply have to let go of your own rules and respect that your co-parent may have his/her own rules that you do not agree with.  In some circumstances such as the example above, you may simply have to respect the difference, let go and move on.
  4. Get Organized: On a more practical level, you and your co-parent may consider scheduling regular “parenting dates” with each other to discuss anything and everything related to the children.  This will encourage ongoing communication with one another and allow both parents to remain on the same page when it comes to the children.  With that being said, it is important that both parents are organized so that both households run smoothly for the children and one tool that may be useful is a shared online calendar. This can keep track of everything related to the children including important dates, after-school activities, medical appointments, homework projects and more.  This can also help minimize face-to-face or telephone discussions with a co-parent in those co-parenting situations where verbal communication is limited or difficult.

It is important to know that regardless of where you are in your divorce process, the transition is a difficult one and co-parenting is one aspect of a divorce which is a learning process.  It is a skill that you and your co-parent can work on and learn about as time goes on and through shared experiences. If you have serious difficulties with your co-parenting arrangement, speak to your solicitor or a qualified health professional who can assist in the process either by providing their expertise or providing you with the resources you need.

Parental Alienation and Narcissistic Abuse in Divorce

In litigious divorce cases, one of the issues co-parents may have to deal with is parental alienation.  Parental alienation occurs when one parent manipulates a child such that the child refuses to have a relationship with the other parent and as a result, hostilities abound.  Many times, parental alienation is tied to narcissistic behaviour.  An individual with narcissistic traits will thrive on the use of control and manipulation in order to retain what he/she deems as the “perfect image.” Parental alienation, whilst may be satisfying to the alienating parent, will have devastating effects on a child and the alienated/loving parent and is never in the best interests of the child.

Here are a few things to consider and look out for if you are involved in a divorce with a narcissist and dealing with parental alienation:

  1. Look for Potential Warning Signs of Parental Alienation:
    Each and every situation look different and your warning signs will be specific to you. However, here are a few of the more common signs to look out for: the alienating parent will vilify the loving parent; vilification of the loving parent may then extend to his/her extended family and friends; the alienating parent will employ guilt trips upon the child in order to obtain a desired result; the alienating parent’s projected feelings about the loving parent may be highlighted in the child’s own opinion.  These warning signs can be displayed in certain behaviour such as the following examples:  The alienating parent will refuse to respect the loving parent’s time with the child; the alienating parent will tell the child about adult issues including that the loving parent does not love or care about the child; the alienating parent will guilt trip the child by acting hurt if the child is nice to the other parent; the alienating parent rewards the child for talking badly about the other parent.  Ultimately, at the core of parental alienation is that the child is left in the middle feeling as if he/she has to choose between one parent over the other.  A healthy message that should normally be relayed to a child is that he/she does not have to choose between either parent and that both parents, despite being divorced, love the child and want what is best for him/her.  This idea of healthy parenting is not a concept that a narcissistic abusive co-parent can understand.
  2. Be Aware of the Risks:
    The main risk of parental alienation is that it will cause destruction in the relationship between the child and the loving parent, despite the fact that it is the alienating parent who is causing the divide between what once was a healthy relationship. Many times, a relationship between a child and loving parent is irreparably destroyed due to parental alienation caused by the narcissistic parent. What results is either a toxic/resentful relationship between the child and loving parent, or in the worst-case scenario, no relationship will be in existence between the loving parent and the child. This ultimately is the goal of a narcissistic parent who aims to destroy the relationship between the loving parent and the child.  This then allows the narcissistic parent to have full control of the child and full control over the loving parent.  It is therefore important to be aware of the warning signs of narcissistic parental alienation before it gets to the point where no relationship exists between the loving parent and the child.
  3. Do Not Compete:
    If you are up against a narcissistic parent who is indulging in a parental alienation campaign, it is important that you do not try and compete with this individual and his/her behaviour. Instead, it is important to focus on your own parenting styleyou’re your own relationship with the child that is focused on healthy values. Whilst a narcissistic parent may try and bribe a child with gifts and excess, it is important to instead focus on parenting your child with love, empathy, stability, truth, presence and a peaceful environment.  Long-term, this will prevail once a child is old enough to comprehend the full picture of what has been occurring.
  4. Ask for Help:
    Dealing with a narcissistic abusive co-parent is not an easy task and should not be handled alone. You should be asking for help from third-parties such as family and friends who can maybe intervene and assist in the peaceful communication between you and your co-parent. You may also need to speak with a therapist to learn how to deal with a narcissistic abusive co-parent and develop your skills on how to communicate with him/her and with your child. In very difficult cases, you may also need to seek solicitor advice as your solicitor may be able to assist in finding a solution for your situation.
  5. Take Care Of Yourself:
    Finally, it is important that you take care of yourself when dealing with a narcissist in your co-parenting journey. It is a difficult task to deal with someone who may be manipulating and attempting to control you and your child. It is important that you take time for yourself, whether it is talking it out with a therapist or spending time with family and friends, enjoying the hobbies that make you happy and strengthening yourself so that you are able to create boundaries with your co-parent and learn to be mentally strong despite the circumstances.

If your co-parent escalates his/her narcissistic behavour to physical abuse, this is when you will need to seek professional assistance and report any abuse to the authorities.  Speak to someone who can support you in safely reporting any abuse to authorities and ensure that you and your child are not in danger. This is also the time to speak with your solicitor so he/she can assist with legal action in protecting you and your child against an abusive spouse.

Co-Parenting Checklist for the Summer Holiday

In our last article, we discussed the importance of peaceful co-parenting and being prepared when planning your summer holidays with the children. In this article, we will continue on with our discussion by providing you with a short key checklist of things to keep in mind ahead of the children’s summer holidays:

  1. Co-Parenting Summer Holiday Checklist:
    1. Review co-parenting agreement/order(s) prior to planning your summer holiday with the children.
    2. Plan a meeting/telephone call with your co-parent to discuss holiday plans and ensure both of you are on the same page about the upcoming summer holidays.
    3. Plan your holidays with the children accordingly and obtain necessary paperwork/documents including but not limited to passports, birth certificates (if necessary) and Deed of Parenting (if necessary), Covid vaccination and vaccination records.
    4. Provide a detailed summary of travel plans to your co-parent after tickets and plans are purchased and solidified.
    5. Provide to your co-parent the emergency contact details for the children when traveling for the summer holidays.
    6. Discuss any financial considerations with your co-parent about the children’s holiday travel plans and activities.
    7. Enjoy your holidays with the children!
  2. Questions to Ask Your Solicitor Prior to the Holidays:
    1. After reviewing the children’s holiday agreement/orders and there is any confusion, ask for clarification from your solicitor so you are not misinterpreting or misreading the agreement/orders.
    2. If there are disagreements about the summer holidays, ask your solicitor what can be done to assist in the process.
    3. If an application must be made to the court, ask your solicitor detailed questions about the application including how long it will take to obtain a court order and if there is anything that can be done to expedite the process and what the costs are.
    4. Ask your solicitor if you need to bring additional documents with you when traveling with the children other than a passport such as a birth certificate and/or Deed of Parenting.
    5. If you have a history of issues with your co-parent, ask your solicitor if there are any safeguards or steps you can take in advance to avoid issues/conflict during the holidays with the children.

The above is a handy checklist of the things you should review and prepare in advance of the summer holidays. It is always better to be overprepared when it comes to the children’s holidays.  The last thing you want is to have any issues or conflict during your holidays with the children or even worse, not being able to travel with the children for the holidays because of a disagreement with your co-parent over the summer holidays. Speak to your solicitor when in doubt!