One of the more common questions we receive is how long does it take to obtain a divorce in Hong Kong? There is not a simple straight-forward answer as there are many considerations involved in such a timeline. The timeline of a divorce could be impacted by your personal circumstances but also circumstances out of your control. For example, earlier this year, the courts in Hong Kong were subject to a “GAP” (a general adjournment period) due to the Covid-19 outbreak in Hong Kong. As a result, the courts in Hong Kong were closed for an extended period of time and this caused significant delay for many individuals going through a divorce in Hong Kong.
With that being said, the Family Court in Hong Kong do have general guidelines on how long it should, practically speaking, take for cases to be concluded in Hong Kong. This is outlined in Practice Direction SL10.4 with the Family Court’s Target Time Tabling schedule. According to this Practice Direction, after a Case Management Hearing (“CMH”) hearing is listed before the allocated judge, and in cases that involve both children and finance proceedings, the target time table is as follows:
- Short cases within 23 months from the Case Management Hearing;
- Medium cases within 27 months from the Case Management Hearing;
- Long cases within 32 months from the Case Management Hearing.
The time tabling estimates of course may vary if you are only dealing with finance issues. According to the Practice Direction SL10.4, cases involving finances only, the target time table is as follows:
- Short cases within 13 months from the Case Management Hearing;
- Medium cases within 17 months from the Case Management Hearing;
- Long cases within 22 months from the Case Management Hearing.
It is important to note that on the issue of divorce only, if you and your spouse are not involved in a dispute on the issue of divorce and it is an undefended divorce, the timeframe from the filing of the Petition to the Decree Absolute is generally anywhere between 6 to 9 months.
It is important to speak with your solicitor about any questions you may have about the timetable for your divorce as he/she will be able to give you a better idea of how the courts are handling matters at the time of filing. The complexity of your case will also determine the timeline as to how long it will take the courts to set down key dates/hearings. Your solicitor should prepare you in that a divorce in Hong Kong is never quick. It will take time to divorce in Hong Kong and it will be an involved process that requires a great deal of patience.