• Comparing Family Law in England & Wales, Hong Kong and Singapore
  • July 8, 2015
  • Law Firm: Withers Bergman LLP - New Haven Office
  • Our international family team has grown with the creation on 6 April of our Formal Law Alliance with KhattarWong, operating as 'Withers KhattarWong' and providing skilled local family law advice in Singapore, alongside our teams in Hong Kong and London.

    This international reach means that we are uniquely well-placed to consider how each jurisdiction treats the central issues in family law matters. Suzanne Kingston, Natalie O'Shea, Stacey Choong and Philippa Hewitt at Withers and See Chern Yang at Premier Law LLC carried out a thorough comparison, in which England & Wales and Hong Kong's systems can be seen to correspond closely in many more areas than Singapore's, and this is perhaps not surprising, given their lengthier historical relations.

    The main distinctions between the jurisdictions feature in relation to civil partnerships, same sex marriages and civil unions. These are only recognised in England & Wales at present, and this difference presumably follows local cultural trends. Generally speaking, concepts of applicable law on divorce are similar across all three jurisdictions, which will consider non-domestic laws as part of the circumstances of a case.

    England & Wales and Hong Kong require at least one year of marriage to have passed before a divorce petition can be issued, whilst in Singapore a period of three years separation needs to have passed before a divorce can be issued without leave. Financial provision on divorce is pretty similar in England & Wales and Hong Kong but in Singapore certain assets are excluded from consideration as matrimonial assets, such as gifts or inheritances.

    England & Wales leads the way in attaching more weight to pre-nups and post-nups. Hong Kong has approved the judgment in Radmacher and Granatino and is awaiting the Law Commission report this year so as to consider what further modifications to make in its system. Singapore, meanwhile, considers pre-nups under common law contractual principles, but will generally enforce post-nups if properly entered into.