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The Accredited Family Mediation Training 2024 is open for registration! Register before August 31, 2024 to enjoy the Early Bird discount! Learn More

Service Ending Notice: The Family Constructive Dispute Resolution Centre Project has been ended on 31 January, 2024. The Mediation Center will continue to provide professional mediation services and free divorce legal consultation services.

  • Can the parties or the family mediator make the contents of the family mediation meeting public or present it to the court?
    When both parties begin to receive family mediation services, the family mediator and both parties must sign a consent form promising to keep the discussions during the mediation process confidential, with the exception of the final settlement agreement. According to the confidentiality privilege of mediation, the contents discussed during the mediation process may not be used as evidence in court, so the legal rights of both parties are properly protected.
  • Is it necessary to engage a lawyer while receiving family mediation services?
    When dealing with divorce, parties should seek legal advice as much as possible to protect their rights and interests. However, it is not necessary to undergo the divorce through a lawyer.
  • What is the difference between receiving and not receiving family mediation services?
    Family mediation service can help both parties reach an agreement on issues such as child care (custody and visitation), maintenance, property arrangements, etc. after divorce. The advantages of receiving this service include: Greatly reduce the time and mental pressure on both parties caused by litigation Save litigation fees Assist both parties in choosing the most appropriate solution having regard to the interests of the children and both parties, and Increase the motivation of each other to fulfil the agreement Reduce the pain of children and both parties Promote continued cooperation in the parenting of children.
  • When should family mediation services start?
    Family mediation services can be commenced at any stage before or during divorce proceedings and there is no need to stop the relevant legal proceedings.
  • Is the mediated settlement agreement legally binding?
    Once signed by both parties, the mediated settlement agreement becomes legally binding. If both parties agree, you can: Submit the divorce application together with the mediated settlement agreement to the Family Court on your own, and apply to the court for an order in accordance with the terms of the agreement; or Submit the mediated settlement agreement to the lawyer to apply for a court order in divorce on your behalf.
  • Can I apply for maintenance through family mediation services during divorce?
    Yes. Both parties can make a maintenance agreement with the assistance of a mediator and implement it immediately during the divorce application.
  • If I have difficulty communicating with my spouse, can I accept family mediation services unilaterally?
    Only if both parties agree to separate/divorce and are willing to attend the mediation interview together can they receive family mediation services. The parties need to inform the other party of their intention to separate/divorce and have contacted our Centre (you can provide the other party with service information such as leaflets or the website of the Mediation Centre www.mediationcentrehk.org). If the other party does not object, our Centre can contact him/her and invite him/her to accept this service. This can make the other party more mentally prepared, and may be more willing to accept family mediation services.
  • How can I reduce the legal costs required for divorce?
    Accepting family mediation services to help both parties reach an agreement on divorce issues can greatly reduce the cost of divorce proceedings, shorten the time of the entire divorce process and reduce the pressure of litigation.
  • What is separation, and is living in the same house with the other person considered as separation?
    Separation can mean that one of the spouses moves out, or still lives in the same house, but both parties must sleep in separate rooms, have no intimacy, not eating together, no social life together, and resembling two separate households.
  • Do I have to hire a lawyer for divorce?
    Not necessarily. Divorced persons can apply for divorce by themselves by obtaining an application form from the Family Court Registry. Legal advice should be sought before filing a petition or application. The petitioner/applicant should consider seeking legal assistance in the following situations: The spouse does not agree to the divorce; The parties cannot reach an agreement on the children or financial arrangements.
  • How long does the divorce process take?
    If both parties agree, it usually takes about 7-9 months. If there are disputes, it may take 1-2 years or more, depending on the complexity of the case.
  • Do I have to go to court for a divorce?
    According to current court procedure, if there is no dispute between the parties and the judge has no special direction, (for example, if the parties receive family mediation services, complete the divorce agreement with the assistance of the mediator, and apply to the court for divorce with the agreement,) and if the judge is satisfied with the content of the agreement, it is likely that only internal court approval is required without a court hearing, and both parties will be granted a divorce; on the other hand, if there are disputes, a court appearance is necessary.
  • What if the parties cannot reach an agreement on custody and access arrangements for the children?
    The court will direct the Social Welfare Department to prepare a social investigation report on the family background, past children care situations, the current situation of each family member, and the views of the parents/children/other interested parties on the custody and access arrangements, etc.. Meanwhile, the court may also encourage the parties to accept family mediation services to facilitate reaching a consensus on children arrangements. The judge will make orders on children custody and access arrangements based on the investigation report and other relevant evidence. Ideally, the parties should first discuss the interests of the children through family mediation and determine the proper custody of the children, care arrangements, and arrangements for the time for them to spend time with the children, so as to alleviate the negative impact of the dispute on the children.
  • If the parties decide to divorce, how should they decide on children custody arrangements?
    The court must prioritize the best interests of minor children as its paramount consideration, which includes considering the following factors: Children welfare The physical, emotional, and educational needs of the child Whether the parent or another person can properly take care of the child's needs The relationship between the child and the parents The age and gender of the child Sibling unity Cultural, religious background and other special circumstances relating to the child Harm or risk of harm to the child Possible impacts due to environmental changes Parent's physical or psychological disability or illness The personality and character of the parents The child's wishes (taking into account his/her age and understanding).
  • What should the payee do if the payer does not pay maintenance?
    Apply for a judgment summons requiring the payer to appear in court to explain If the court accepts the payer’s explanation, the maintenance order may be varied. If the court does not accept the payer's explanation, the court may sentence the payer to imprisonment, or while suspending the order of committal, order the payer to pay the amount owed. If he/she fails to comply, then may be sentenced to imprisonment. Apply for an Attachment of Income Order requiring the payer's employer to pay the payee's maintenance direct from the payer's wages. The court may also consider requiring the payer to pay the interest on the arrears and/or the surcharge on the arrears. For details (including the conditions for applying for interest and surcharge, the method of calculation, relevant legal procedures and reasons for refusal to pay, etc.), please refer to the Home Affairs Bureau's webpage on "Interest and surcharge on arrears of maintenance". Depending on the assets owned by the payer, the payee may also consider applying to the court to freeze the payer's bank account, or for a charging order on property etc.
  • What is nominal one dollar maintenance?
    If one party does not have enough assets and income to pay actual maintenance to the other party when the two parties are divorced, the court might issue a nominal maintenance order requiring one party to pay the other party a nominal maintenance of one dollar per year. The maintenance payee may retains the right to claim maintenance in the future. If the financial situation of the party paying maintenance improves in the future, the maintenance payee may apply to the court for variation of the maintenance order.
  • If I am eligible to apply for maintenance but choose not to apply for maintenance; but apply for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance, is it okay?
    The Social Welfare Department will require an applicant to first seek maintenance from the ex-spouse, and consider applying for government assistance only if difficulties are encountered.
  • What should I do if the payer has insufficient income or is unable to pay maintenance?
    You may first seek family mediation services to discuss and agree for varying the maintenance, and apply to the court for a variation order on the terms of the agreement. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, you may consider filing an application to the court, but the payer must provide sufficient justification, as in the case of the previous paragraph.
  • When the financial burden of the payee increases, can the payer be required to increase the maintenance?
    You may first seek family mediation services to discuss and reach an agreement for varying the maintenance, and to apply to court for a variation order on the terms of the agreement. If the parties cannot reach an agreement, you may consider filing an application to the court, but the payee must provide sufficient justification. The court will consider granting a variation order having regard to all the circumstances of the case, including any changes in any matter, such as illness, disability, unemployment or increase in living expenses of the child, etc.
  • How long do I have to pay maintenance to my ex-spouse?
    If the person receiving maintenance remarries, or either party dies, the maintenance payer is no longer required to pay.
  • If the other party does not allow me to visit my children, may I withhold payment of maintenance? Furthermore, if he/she accuses me of not paying maintenance, can I sue him/her of not allowing me to meet my children?
    Maintenance and child access arrangements should be dealt with separately. Both parents have the responsibility to provide for their children regardless of whether they have access to them. On the other hand, regardless of whether maintenance is paid or not, the parent living with the child should also allow the child to have reasonable chance to meet with the non-resident parent, so that the child can enjoy the love and care of the parents.
  • If I give up applying for maintenance, may I apply again in the future?
    For the ex-spouse's application for maintenance, the application can only be made with the consent of the court. If the maintenance order has stated there is a "clean break" arrangement, you will not be able to claim maintenance from the other party in the future. As for the children, even if no request for child support is made to the other party before the divorce, the court will still deal with such application made in the future.
  • Under what circumstances can maintenance be applied for?
    Divorce Separation Not divorced but the other party fails to provide financial support If there is actual need, during the divorce application, you may apply to the court for maintenance while the proceeding is pending determination, that is, maintenance pending suit in case of divorce. At the same time, you may engage family mediation services at the above different stages to try to negotiate and reach a consensus on maintenance.
  • In addition to maintenance, may I propose to distribute property?
    Yes, if both parties cannot reach an agreement on maintenance and property distribution, they may apply to court for an order on maintenance and property distribution. If mediation fails and litigation is required, both parties must disclose to the court all the assets they own (including solely owned, jointly owned, Hong Kong and overseas properties) for the court's consideration.
  • Hong long does child maintenance normally required to be paid?
    Spousal maintenance and property distribution do not include child maintenance. The court will separately award child maintenance until the child reaches the age of 18 or completes full-time education, whichever is the later, or until special circumstances arise justifying the court to make orders on ancillary relief.
  • What is separation, and is living in the same house with the other person considered as separation?
    Separation can mean that one of the spouses moves out, or still lives in the same house, but both parties must sleep in separate rooms, have no intimacy, not eating together, no social life together, and resembling two separate households.
  • Hong long does child maintenance normally required to be paid?
    Spousal maintenance and property distribution do not include child maintenance. The court will separately award child maintenance until the child reaches the age of 18 or completes full-time education, whichever is the later, or until special circumstances arise justifying the court to make orders on ancillary relief.
  • When should family mediation services start?
    Family mediation services can be commenced at any stage before or during divorce proceedings and there is no need to stop the relevant legal proceedings.
  • Under what circumstances can maintenance be applied for?
    Divorce Separation Not divorced but the other party fails to provide financial support If there is actual need, during the divorce application, you may apply to the court for maintenance while the proceeding is pending determination, that is, maintenance pending suit in case of divorce. At the same time, you may engage family mediation services at the above different stages to try to negotiate and reach a consensus on maintenance.
  • What is the difference between receiving and not receiving family mediation services?
    Family mediation service can help both parties reach an agreement on issues such as child care (custody and visitation), maintenance, property arrangements, etc. after divorce. The advantages of receiving this service include: Greatly reduce the time and mental pressure on both parties caused by litigation Save litigation fees Assist both parties in choosing the most appropriate solution having regard to the interests of the children and both parties, and Increase the motivation of each other to fulfil the agreement Reduce the pain of children and both parties Promote continued cooperation in the parenting of children.
  • What if the parties cannot reach an agreement on custody and access arrangements for the children?
    The court will direct the Social Welfare Department to prepare a social investigation report on the family background, past children care situations, the current situation of each family member, and the views of the parents/children/other interested parties on the custody and access arrangements, etc.. Meanwhile, the court may also encourage the parties to accept family mediation services to facilitate reaching a consensus on children arrangements. The judge will make orders on children custody and access arrangements based on the investigation report and other relevant evidence. Ideally, the parties should first discuss the interests of the children through family mediation and determine the proper custody of the children, care arrangements, and arrangements for the time for them to spend time with the children, so as to alleviate the negative impact of the dispute on the children.

Q & A: Family Mediation Service

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