Matrimonial Causes Ordinance


Published: 1997-06-30

Subscribe to a Global-Regulation Premium Membership Today!

Key Benefits:

Subscribe Now for only USD$20 per month, or Get a Day Pass for only USD$4.99.
Cap 179 - MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE 1

Chapter: 179 MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE Gazette Number Version Date

Long title 30/06/1997


To make further and better provision in respect of the law governing matrimonial causes and for matters incidental
thereto or connected therewith.


[20 January 1967]


(Originally 1 of 1967)

Part: I PRELIMINARY 30/06/1997




Section: 1 Short title 30/06/1997


This Ordinance may be cited as the Matrimonial Causes Ordinance.

Section: 2 Interpretation L.N. 362 of 1997;

25 of 1998
01/07/1997



Remarks:
Adaptation amendments retroactively made - see 25 of 1998 s. 2


In this Ordinance, unless the context otherwise requires-
"adultery" (通姦) does not include sexual intercourse of a man who is a party to a customary marriage celebrated in

accordance with section 7 of the Marriage Reform Ordinance (Cap 178) with a concubine (tsip) lawfully taken
by him; (Added 63 of 1979 s. 2)

"court" (法院) means the High Court or the District Court; (Replaced 79 of 1981 s. 5. Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)
"deported" (遞解離境) includes being prohibited from landing in Hong Kong, being obliged to leave Hong Kong by

reason of the refusal to grant or renew, or the revocation of, a permit to remain in Hong Kong and an order of
expulsion;

"matrimonial cause" (婚姻訴訟) means any proceedings for-
(a) divorce;
(b) nullity;
(c) judicial separation;
(d) presumption of death and dissolution of marriage;
(e)-(f) (Repealed 80 of 1997 s. 81)
(g) (Repealed 29 of 1995 s. 2)

"monogamous marriage" (一夫一妻制婚姻) means a marriage which was-
(a) if it took place in Hong Kong-

(i) celebrated or contracted in accordance with the provisions of the Marriage Ordinance (Cap 181);
(ii) a modern marriage validated by section 8 of the Marriage Reform Ordinance (Cap 178) and

registered under Part IV of that Ordinance; or (Replaced 68 of 1970 s. 26)
(b) if it took place outside Hong Kong, celebrated or contracted in accordance with the law in force at the

time and in the place where the marriage was performed and recognized by such law as involving the
voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others;

"property" (財產) means any real or personal property, any estate or interest in real or personal property, any money,
any negotiable instrument, any prescribed instrument within the meaning of section 137B of the Banking
Ordinance (Cap 155), debt or other chose in action, and any other right or interest whether in possession or not;
(Amended 94 of 1993 s. 39) [cf. 1965 c. 72 s. 26(6) U.K.]

"the Proctor" (代訴人) means the Secretary for Justice. (Amended L.N. 362 of 1997)
[cf. 1965 c. 72 s. 46(2) U.K.]



Cap 179 - MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE 2


Part: II JURISDICTION OF COURT 30/06/1997




Section: 3 Jurisdiction in divorce 30/06/1997


The court shall have jurisdiction in proceedings for divorce under this Ordinance if-
(a) either of the parties to the marriage was domiciled in Hong Kong at the date of the petition or

application; (Replaced 29 of 1995 s. 3)
(b) either of the parties to the marriage was habitually resident in Hong Kong throughout the period of 3

years immediately preceding the date of the petition or application; or (Replaced 29 of 1995 s. 3)
(c) either of the parties to the marriage had a substantial connection with Hong Kong at the date of the

petition or application. (Added 68 of 1970 s. 26. Amended 29 of 1995 s. 3)

Section: 4 Jurisdiction in nullity 30/06/1997


The court shall have jurisdiction in proceedings for nullity under this Ordinance if-
(a) either of the parties to the marriage was domiciled in or had a substantial connection with Hong Kong

at the date of the petition; (Amended 68 of 1970 s. 26)
(b) either of the parties to the marriage was habitually resident in Hong Kong throughout the period of 3

years immediately preceding the date of the petition; (Replaced 29 of 1995 s. 4)
(c) both parties to the marriage were resident in Hong Kong at the date of the petition;
(d) the respondent in the proceedings was resident in Hong Kong at the date of the petition; or
(e) the marriage was celebrated in Hong Kong.


Section: 5 Jurisdiction in judicial separation 30/06/1997


The court shall have jurisdiction in proceedings for judicial separation under this Ordinance if-
(a) either of the parties to the marriage was domiciled in Hong Kong at the date of the petition; (Replaced

29 of 1995 s. 5)
(b) both parties to the marriage were resident in Hong Kong at the date of the petition;
(c) (Repealed 29 of 1995 s. 5)
(d) either of the parties to the marriage had a substantial connection with Hong Kong at the date of the

petition. (Added 68 of 1970 s. 26)

Section: 6 Jurisdiction in presumption of death 30/06/1997


(1) The court shall have jurisdiction in proceedings for presumption of death and dissolution of marriage under
this Ordinance if-

(a) the petitioner was domiciled in or had a substantial connection with Hong Kong at the date of the
petition; or (Amended 68 of 1970 s. 26)

(b) the petitioner was habitually resident in Hong Kong throughout the period of 3 years immediately
preceding the date of the petition; (Replaced 29 of 1995 s. 6)

(2) (Repealed 29 of 1995 s. 6)

Section: 7 (Repealed with savings-see s. 33 of 39 of 1972) 30/06/1997




Section: 7A Effect of dissolution under Marriage Reform Ordinance 30/06/1997


(1) Subject to subsection (2), the dissolution in accordance with Part V of the Marriage Reform Ordinance (Cap
178) of a modern marriage validated by section 8 of the Marriage Reform Ordinance (Cap 178) and subsisting on the
day appointed under section 3 of that Ordinance or a customary marriage subsisting on the day appointed under
section 3 of that Ordinance shall, for the purposes of Part VI and Part VII, be deemed to be a final decree of divorce



Cap 179 - MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE 3

granted by the court, and accordingly, the court shall have the same jurisdiction and powers in respect of ancillary
relief and the protection of children as it would have had under Parts VI and VII if the court had pronounced a final
decree of divorce. (Amended 63 of 1979 s. 3)

(2) Where the parties to a marriage which is dissolved in accordance with Part V of the Marriage Reform
Ordinance (Cap 178) have agreed as to the amount of maintenance to be payable by one of the parties to the other
after the dissolution of the marriage and have recorded the terms of that agreement as part of the agreement or
memorandum dissolving the marriage, subsection (1) shall not have effect to confer jurisdiction at any time on any
court in respect of maintenance for either of the parties to the former marriage. (Replaced 63 of 1979 s. 3)

(Added 68 of 1970 s. 26)

Section: 8 Law of Hong Kong applicable 30/06/1997


In any proceedings in which the court has jurisdiction under this Ordinance, the issues shall be determined in
accordance with the law which would be applicable thereto if both parties were domiciled in Hong Kong at the time of
the proceedings.

[cf. 1965 c. 72 ss. 14(5) & 40(2) U.K.]

Section: 9 Power to grant relief limited to certain marriages 30/06/1997


Nothing in this Ordinance shall authorize the court to pronounce a decree of divorce, nullity, judicial separation
or presumption of death and dissolution of marriage or to make any other order unless the marriage to or in respect of
which the decree or order relates was a customary marriage celebrated in accordance with section 7 of the Marriage
Reform Ordinance (Cap 178) and registered in accordance with Part IV of that Ordinance or was a monogamous
marriage.

(Replaced 63 of 1979 s. 4)

Section: 10 Practice and procedure 30/06/1997


The jurisdiction vested in the court by this Ordinance shall so far as regards procedure, practice and powers of
the court be exercised in the manner provided by this Ordinance; and where no special provision is contained in this
Ordinance with reference thereto, any such jurisdiction shall be exercised in accordance with the practice, procedure
and powers for the time being in force in the High Court of Justice in England with reference to matrimonial
proceedings.

Part: IIA COMMENCEMENT OF PROCEEDINGS 30/06/1997




Section: 10A Commencement and transfer of proceedings 25 of 1998 01/07/1997


Remarks:
Adaptation amendments retroactively made - see 25 of 1998 s. 2


(1) Subject to subsection (2), a matrimonial cause and any other proceedings under this Ordinance shall be
commenced in the District Court:

Provided that rules may make provision-
(a) for the transfer to the High Court of any cause or proceedings upon the application of any party or at

the instance of the District Court; and
(b) for the transfer or retransfer from the High Court of any cause or proceedings to the District Court.

(Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)
(2) An application under section 39 shall be made to the court that made the order to which the application

relates:
Provided that rules of court may make provision for the transfer of applications from one court to the other.
(3) The District Court may exercise jurisdiction under this Ordinance although the amount claimed in the

proceedings would, but for this subsection, be beyond the jurisdiction of that court.



Cap 179 - MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE 4

(Replaced 79 of 1981 s. 5)

Part: III DIVORCE 30/06/1997




Section: 11 Ground for divorce, etc. 30/06/1997


The sole ground for presenting or making a petition or application for divorce shall be that the marriage has
broken down irretrievably and proceedings for divorce shall be instituted either-

(a) by a petition for divorce; or
(b) by an application for divorce.

(Replaced 29 of 1995 s. 7)

Section: 11A Proof of ground for petition 30/06/1997


(1) A petition for divorce may be presented to the court by either party to a marriage.
(2) The court hearing a petition for divorce shall not hold the marriage to have broken down irretrievably

unless the petitioner satisfies the court of one or more of the following facts-
(a) that the respondent has committed adultery and the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the

respondent;
(b) that the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live

with the respondent;
(c) that the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 1 year immediately

preceding the presentation of the petition and the respondent consents to a decree's being granted;
(d) that the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 2 years immediately

preceding the presentation of the petition;
(e) that the respondent has deserted the petitioner for a continuous period of at least 1 year immediately

preceding the presentation of the petition.
(Replaced 29 of 1995 s. 7)


Section: 11B Proof of ground for application, etc. 30/06/1997


(1) An application for divorce shall be made to the court jointly by both parties to the marriage.
(2) The court hearing an application for divorce shall not hold the marriage to have broken down irretrievably

unless it is satisfied as regards either or both of the following facts-
(a) that the parties to the marriage have lived apart for a continuous period of at least 1 year immediately

preceding the making of the application; and
(b) that not less than 1 year prior to the making of the application a notice under subsection (3), signed by

each of such parties was given to the court and that the notice was not subsequently withdrawn.
(3) (a) The parties to a marriage may at any time give to the court a written notice signed by each of them of

their intention to apply to the court to dissolve their marriage.
(b) A notice under this subsection shall be in such form as is for the time being specified in rules made

under section 54.
(Added 29 of 1995 s. 7)


Section: 11C Interpretation (Part III) L.N. 280 of 2008 01/03/2009


(1) For the purposes of this Part, a husband and wife shall be treated as living apart unless they are living with
each other in the same household.

(2) (Repealed 4 of 2008 s. 15)
(Added 29 of 1995 s. 7)





Cap 179 - MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE 5

Section: 12 Restriction on petitions within one year of marriage 30/06/1997


(1) Subject to subsection (2), no petition for divorce shall be presented to the court before the expiration of the
period of 1 year from the date of the marriage (hereafter in this section referred to as "the specified period").
(Amended 29 of 1995 s. 8)

(2) A judge of the court may, on an application made to him, allow the presentation of a petition for divorce
within the specified period on the ground that the case is one of exceptional hardship suffered by the petitioner or of
exceptional depravity on the part of the respondent; but in determining the application the judge shall have regard to
the interests of any child of the family within the meaning of section 2 of the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property
Ordinance (Cap 192) and to the question whether there is reasonable probability of a reconciliation between the
parties during the specified period. (Amended 39 of 1972 s. 33) [cf. 1970 c. 45 s. 35 U.K.]

(3) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to prohibit the presentation of a petition based upon matters which
occurred before the expiration of the specified period.

[cf. 1965 c. 72 s. 2 U.K.]

Section: 13 Divorce not precluded by previous judicial separation 30/06/1997


(1) A person shall not be prevented from presenting or making a petition or application for divorce, or the court
from granting a decree of divorce, by reason only that the petitioner or an applicant or respondent has at any time, on
the same facts or substantially the same facts as those proved in support of the petition or application, been granted a
decree of judicial separation or an order under, or having effect as if made under, the Separation and Maintenance
Orders Ordinance (Cap 16).

(2) In a case to which subsection (1) applies the court may treat the decree of judicial separation or the order
described in that subsection as sufficient proof of the ground on which it was granted; provided that in such a case the
court shall not grant a decree of divorce without receiving evidence from the petitioner or, if the case is an application
for divorce, evidence from both of the applicants unless, in such a case, the court considers it reasonable in the
particular circumstances to receive evidence from 1 only of those applicants.

(Replaced 29 of 1995 s. 9)
_______________________________________________________________________________
Notes:
1. Please see the saver provision in relation to the repealed section 13(3), as contained in section 18 of 29

of 1995. Such repealed section 13(3) and the saver provision are reproduced as follows:


"18. Saver


Where immediately before the commencement of this Ordinance section 13(3) of the principal
Ordinance applied to a particular period of desertion, that section shall continue so to apply as if
section 9 of this Ordinance had not been enacted.".


2. 29 of 1995 commenced operation on 24 June 1996.

3. The repealed section 13(3), which was in force immediately before section 9 of 29 of 1995 came into

operation, is reproduced below-


"(3) For the purposes of a petition for divorce in such a case, a period of desertion immediately
preceding the institution of proceedings for a decree of judicial separation or for such an order as
aforesaid having the effect of a decree of judicial separation shall, if the parties have not resumed
cohabitation and the decree or order has been continuously in force since it was granted, be deemed
immediately to precede the presentation of the petition.".


Section: 14 Alleged adulterer as a party 30/06/1997


(1) Where in a petition for divorce one party to the marriage alleges that the other has committed adultery, the
party making the allegation shall make the person alleged to have committed adultery with the other party to the
marriage a party to the proceedings unless excused by the court on special grounds from doing so.

(2) Rules of court may, either generally or in such cases as may be prescribed by the rules, exclude the



Cap 179 - MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE 6

application of subsection (1) where the person alleged to have committed adultery with the other party to the marriage
is not named in the petition.

(3) Where in pursuance of subsection (1) a person is made a party to a petition for divorce, the court may, if,
after the close of the evidence on the part of the person making the allegation of adultery, it is of opinion that as
regards the allegation there is not sufficient evidence against the person so made a party, dismiss him or her from the
suit.

(4) (a) Rules of court may make provision, in cases not falling within subsection (1), with respect to the
joinder as parties to proceedings under this Ordinance of persons involved in allegations of adultery
made in those proceedings, and with respect to the dismissal from such proceedings of any party so
joined.

(b) Rules of court made by virtue of this subsection may make different provision for different cases.
(Replaced 29 of 1995 s. 9)


Section: 15 Hearing of petition 10 of 2005 08/07/2005


(1) In any proceedings for divorce it shall be the duty of the court to inquire, in so far as it reasonably can, into
any facts alleged by any party to the proceedings. (Replaced 29 of 1995 s. 10)

(2) If the court is satisfied on the evidence of any such fact as is mentioned in section 11A(2) or 11B(2), then
unless it is satisfied on all the evidence that the marriage has not broken down irretrievably, it shall, subject to
subsection (3) of this section, grant a decree nisi of divorce. (Amended 29 of 1995 s. 17) [cf. 1969 c. 55 s. 2(3) U.K.]

(3) If it appears to the court, at the hearing of a petition for divorce presented in pursuance of leave granted
under section 12(2), that the leave was obtained by the petitioner by any misrepresentation or concealment of the
nature of the case, the court may-

(a) dismiss the petition, without prejudice to any petition which may be brought after the expiration of the
period of 1 year from the date of the marriage upon the same facts, or substantially the same facts, as
those proved in support of the dismissed petition; or (Amended 29 of 1995 s. 10)

(b) if it grants a decree, direct that no application to make the decree absolute shall be made during that
period. [cf. 1965 c. 72 s. 5(5) U.K.]

(4) If in any proceedings for divorce the respondent alleges against the petitioner and proves any such fact as is
mentioned in section 11A(2), the court may give to the respondent the relief to which the respondent would have been
entitled if the respondent had presented a petition seeking that relief. (Amended 29 of 1995 s. 17) [cf. 1965 c. 72 s.
5(6) U.K.]

(5) Every decree of divorce shall in the first instance be a decree nisi and shall not be made absolute before the
expiration of 3 months from its grant, unless the Chief Judge by general order, or the court in any particular case, fixes
a shorter period. (Amended 10 of 2005 s. 12) [cf. 1965 c. 72 s. 5(7) U.K.]

(Replaced 33 of 1972 s. 6)

Section: 15A Provisions to encourage reconciliation 30/06/1997


(1) If at any stage of proceedings for divorce it appears to the court that there is a reasonable possibility of a
reconciliation between the parties to the marriage, the court may adjourn the proceedings for such period, as it thinks
fit to enable attempts to be made to effect such a reconciliation.

(2) The power of the court to adjourn under subsection (1) shall be additional to any other power of the court to
adjourn proceedings.

(3) Where the parties to the marriage have lived with each other for any period or periods after it has become
known to the petitioner that the respondent has, since the celebration of the marriage, committed adultery-

(a) if the length of that period or of those periods together is 6 months or less, their living with each other
during that period or those periods shall be disregarded in determining for the purposes of section
11A(2)(a) whether the petitioner finds it intolerable to live with the respondent; but (Amended 29 of
1995 s. 17)

(b) if the length of that period or of those periods together exceeds 6 months, the petitioner shall not be
entitled to rely on that adultery for the purpose of section 11A(2)(a). (Amended 29 of 1995 s. 17)

(4) Where the petitioner alleges that the respondent has behaved in such a way that the petitioner cannot
reasonably be expected to live with him, but the parties to the marriage have lived with each other for a period or
periods after the date of the occurrence of the final incident relied on by the petitioner and held by the court to support



Cap 179 - MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE 7

his allegation, that fact shall be disregarded in determining, for the purposes of section 11A(2)(b), whether the
petitioner cannot reasonably be expected to live with the respondent if the length of that period or of those periods
together is 6 months or less. (Amended 29 of 1995 s. 17)

(5) In considering for the purposes of this Part whether the period during which the parties to a marriage have
lived apart has been continuous, no account shall be taken of any period or periods together not exceeding 6 months
during which the parties have resumed living with each other, but no period during which the parties lived with each
other shall count as part of the period during which the parties to the marriage have lived apart. (Replaced 29 of 1995
s. 11)

(6) References in this section to the parties to a marriage living with each other shall be construed as references
to their living with each other in the same household.

(Added 33 of 1972 s. 7) [cf. 1969 c. 55 s. 3(2)-(6) U.K.]

Section: 15B Decree to be refused in certain circumstances 30/06/1997


(1) The respondent to a petition for divorce in which the petitioner alleges any such fact as is mentioned in
section 11A(2)(d) may oppose the grant of decree nisi on the ground that the dissolution of the marriage will result in
grave financial or other hardship to him and that it would in all the circumstances be wrong to dissolve the marriage.
(Amended 29 of 1995 s. 17)

(2) Where the grant of a decree nisi is opposed by virtue of this section, then-
(a) if the court is satisfied that the only fact on which the petitioner is entitled to rely in support of his

petition is that mentioned in section 11A(2)(d); and (Amended 29 of 1995 s. 17)
(b) if apart from this section it would grant a decree nisi,

the court shall consider all the circumstances, including the conduct of the parties to the marriage and the interest of
those parties and of any children or other persons concerned, and if the court is of opinion that the dissolution of the
marriage will result in grave financial or other hardship to the respondent and that it would in all circumstances be
wrong to dissolve the marriage it shall dismiss the petition.

(3) For the purposes of this section hardship shall include the loss of the chance of acquiring any benefit which
the respondent might acquire if the marriage were not dissolved.

(Added 33 of 1972 s. 7) [cf. 1969 c. 55 s. 4 U.K.]

Section: 15C Power to rescind decree nisi in certain cases 30/06/1997


(1) Where the court on granting a decree nisi of divorce holds that the only fact on which the petitioner is
entitled to rely in support of his petition is that mentioned in section 11A(2)(c), it may, on application made by the
respondent at any time before the decree is made absolute, rescind the decree if it is satisfied that the petitioner has
misled the respondent, whether intentionally or unintentionally, about any matter which the respondent has taken into
account in deciding to consent to the grant of a decree. (Amended 29 of 1995 ss. 12 & 17)

(2) Where a court on granting a decree nisi of divorce is satisfied in accordance with the requirement of section
11B(2)(a), it may, on an application's being made in that behalf by either party to the marriage, at any time before the
decree is made absolute, rescind the decree if it is satisfied by that party that he or she has been misled by the other
party, whether intentionally or unintentionally, about any matter which he or she took into account when deciding to
make the application for divorce. (Added 29 of 1995 s. 12)

(Added 33 of 1972 s. 7) [cf. 1969 c. 55 s. 5 U.K.]

Section: 16 Intervention of the Proctor 30/06/1997


(1) In any proceedings for divorce under this Ordinance- (Amended 29 of 1995 s. 17)
(a) the court may, if it thinks fit, direct all necessary papers in the matter to be sent to the Proctor, who

shall instruct counsel to argue before the court any question in relation to the matter which the court
deems it necessary or expedient to have fully argued;

(b) any person may at any time during the progress of the proceedings or before the decree nisi is made
absolute give information to the Proctor on any matter material to the due decision of the case, and the
Proctor may thereupon take such steps as he considers necessary or expedient. (Amended 33 of 1972
s. 8)

(2) Where the Proctor intervenes or shows cause against a decree nisi in any proceedings for divorce, the court



Cap 179 - MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE 8

may make such order as may be just as to the payment by other parties to the proceedings of the costs incurred by him
in so doing or as to the payment by him of any costs incurred by any of those parties by reason of his so doing.

[cf. 1965 c. 72 s. 6 U.K.]

Section: 17 Proceedings after decree nisi 30/06/1997


(1) Where a decree nisi of divorce has been granted but not made absolute, then, without prejudice to section
16, any person (excluding a party to the proceedings other than the Proctor) may show cause why the decree should
not be made absolute by reason of material facts not having been brought before the court; and in such a case the court
may-

(a) notwithstanding anything in section 15(5), make the decree absolute; or
(b) rescind the decree nisi; or
(c) require further inquiry; or
(d) otherwise deal with the case as it thinks fit. (Amended 33 of 1972 s. 9)

(2) (a) Where a decree nisi of divorce has been granted and no application for it to be made absolute is made,
then, at any time after the expiration of 3 months from the earliest date on which such an application
could have been made, an application for a decree absolute may be made by-
(i) in a case where the decree nisi was granted on a petition for divorce, the person against whom it

was granted; or
(ii) in a case where such a decree was granted on an application for divorce, either of the parties by

whom the application was made.
(b) Where an application is made under this subsection, the court may in relation to it exercise any of the

powers mentioned in subsection (1)(a) to (d). (Replaced 29 of 1995 s. 13)
[cf. 1965 c. 72 s. 7 U.K.]


Section: 17A Financial protection for respondent in certain cases 30/06/1997


(1) This section shall apply where-
(a) the respondent to a petition for divorce in which the petitioner alleges any such fact as is mentioned in

section 11A(2)(c) or (d) has applied to the court under this section for it to consider the financial
position of the respondent after the divorce; and (Amended 29 of 1995 s. 17)

(b) a decree nisi of divorce has been granted on the petition and the court holds that the only fact on which
the petitioner is entitled to rely in support of his petition is that mentioned in section 11A(2)(c) or (d).
(Amended 29 of 1995 s. 17)

(2) The court hearing an application by the respondent under subsection (1) shall consider-
(a) all the circumstances, including the age, health, conduct, earning capacity, financial resources and

financial obligations of each of the parties; and
(b) the financial position of the respondent as, having regard to the divorce, it is likely to be after the death

of the petitioner should the petitioner die first.
(3) Notwithstanding anything in this Ordinance but subject to subsection (4), the court shall not make absolute

the decree of divorce if an application has been made under subsection (1), unless it is satisfied that-
(a) the petitioner should not be required to make any financial provision for the respondent; or
(b) the financial provision made by the petitioner for the respondent is reasonable and fair or the best that

can be made in the circumstances.
(4) The court may, if it thinks fit, proceed without observing the requirements of subsections (2) and (3) if-

(a) it appears that there are circumstances making it desirable that the decree should be made absolute
without delay; and

(b) the court has obtained a satisfactory undertaking from the petitioner that he will make such financial
provision for the respondent as the court may approve.

(Added 33 of 1972 s. 10) [cf. 1969 c. 55 s. 6 U.K.]

Section: 18 Remarriage of divorced persons 30/06/1997


(1) Where a decree of divorce has been made absolute and either-
(a) there is no right of appeal against the decree absolute; or



Cap 179 - MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE 9

(b) the time for appealing against the decree absolute has expired without an appeal having been brought;
or

(c) an appeal against the decree absolute has been dismissed,
either party to the former marriage may marry again.

(2) No clergyman shall be compelled-
(a) to solemnize the marriage of any person whose former marriage has been dissolved and whose former

spouse is still living; or
(b) to permit the marriage of such a person to be solemnized in the church or chapel of which he is the

minister.
[cf. 1965 c. 72 s. 8 U.K.]


Section: 18A Court not to dismiss petition or application to make

absolute a decree nisi on ground of collusion or misconduct
of petitioner

30/06/1997



Without prejudice to any provision of this Ordinance which empowers or requires the court to dismiss a petition
for divorce or judicial separation or to dismiss an application for a decree nisi to be made absolute, nothing in any rule
of law shall be taken as empowering or requiring the court to dismiss such a petition or application on the ground of
collusion between the parties in connection with the presentation or prosecution of the petition or the obtaining of the
decree nisi or on the ground of any conduct on the part of the petitioner.

(Added 33 of 1972 s. 11) [cf. 1969 c. 55 s. 9(3) U.K.]

Section: 18B Rules 10 of 2005 08/07/2005


The Chief Judge may make rules for the purposes of- (Amended 10 of 2005 s. 13)
(a) ensuring that, where on a petition for divorce the petitioner, in pursuance of section 11A(2)(c), alleges

that the respondent consents to a decree being granted, the respondent has been given such information
as will enable him to understand the consequences to him of his consenting to a decree being granted
and the steps which he must take to indicate that he consents to the grant of a decree; and [cf. 1969 c.
55 s. 2(6) U.K.]

(b) requiring the solicitor acting for a petitioner for divorce to certify whether he has discussed with the
petitioner the possibility of a reconciliation and given him the names and address of persons qualified
to help effect a reconciliation between the parties to a marriage who have become estranged; and [cf.
1969 c. 55 s. 3(1) U.K.]

(c) enabling the parties to a marriage, or either of them, on application made either before or after the
presentation of a petition for divorce, to refer to the court any agreement or arrangement made or
proposed to be made between them, being an agreement or arrangement which relates to, arises out of,
or is connected with, the proceedings for divorce which are contemplated or, as the case may be, have
begun, and for enabling the court to express an opinion, should it think it desirable to do so, as to the
reasonableness of the agreement or arrangement and to give such directions, if any, in the matter as it
thinks fit. [cf. 1969 c. 55 s. 7(1) U.K.]

(Added 33 of 1972 s. 11. Amended 29 of 1995 s. 17)

Part: IV NULLITY 30/06/1997




Section: 19 Petition for nullity 30/06/1997


A husband or wife may present a petition to the court praying that his or her marriage may be declared null and
void on any of the grounds mentioned in section 20.

Section: 20 Grounds for decree of nullity 30/06/1997


(1) A marriage which takes place after 30 June 1972 shall be void on any of the following grounds only-



Cap 179 - MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE 10

(a) that it is not a valid marriage under section 27 of the Marriage Ordinance (Cap 181), that is to say-
(i) the parties to the marriage are within the prohibited degrees of kindred or affinity; or
(ii) either party is under the age of 16; or
(iii) the parties have intermarried in disregard of certain requirements as to the formation of marriage;

(b) that the marriage is otherwise invalid by the law of Hong Kong;
(c) that at the time of the marriage either party was already lawfully married;
(d) that the parties are not respectively male and female.

(2) A marriage which takes place after 30 June 1972 shall, subject to subsection (3), be voidable on any of the
following grounds only-

(a) that the marriage has not been consummated owing to the incapacity of either party to consummate it;
(b) that the marriage has not been consummated owing to the wilful refusal of the respondent to

consummate it;
(c) that either party to the marriage did not validly consent to it, whether in consequence of duress,

mistake, unsoundness of mind or otherwise;
(d) that at the time of the marriage either party to the marriage, though capable of giving a valid consent,

was suffering, whether continuously or intermittently, from mental disorder within the meaning of the
Mental Health Ordinance (Cap 136) of such a kind or to such extent as to be unfitted for marriage;

(e) that at the time of the marriage the respondent was suffering from venereal disease in a communicable
form;

(f) that at the time of the marriage the respondent was pregnant by some person other than the petitioner.
(3) The court shall not, in proceedings instituted after 30 June 1972, grant a decree of nullity on the ground that

a marriage is voidable (whether the marriage took place before or after 1 July 1972) if the respondent satisfies the
court-

(a) that the petitioner, with knowledge that it was open to him to have the marriage avoided, so conducted
himself in relation to the respondent as to lead the respondent reasonably to believe that he would not
seek to do so; and

(b) that it would be unjust to the respondent to grant the decree.
(4) Without prejudice to subsection (3), the court shall not grant a decree of nullity on the grounds mentioned

in subsection (2)(c), (d), (e) or (f) unless the court is satisfied that the proceedings were instituted within 3 years from
the date of the marriage.

(5) Without prejudice to subsections (3) and (4), the court shall not grant a decree of nullity on the grounds
mentioned in subsection (2)(e) or (f) unless the court is satisfied that the petitioner was at the time of the marriage
ignorant of the facts alleged.

(6) Subsection (3) replaces, in relation to any decree to which it applies, any rule of law whereby a decree may
be refused by reason of approbation, ratification or lack of sincerity on the part of the petitioner or on similar grounds.

(Replaced 33 of 1972 s. 12)
[cf. 1971 c. 44 ss. 1, 2, 3(1)-(4) U.K.]


_______________________________________________________________________________
Note:
The repealed section 20, which is reproduced below, shall continue to have effect in relation to marriages
which took place before 1 July 1972 and the new section 20 shall have effect only in relation to marriages
which took place after 30 June 1972-(33 of 1972 s. 26(2))-


20. Grounds for decree of nullity


(1) A marriage shall be void on any of the following grounds-

(a) that the parties to the marriage are within the prohibited degrees of consanguinity or
affinity as provided in the Marriage Ordinance (Cap 181);

(b) that the former husband or wife of either party to the marriage was living at the time of the
marriage and the marriage with such former husband or wife was then in force;

(c) that the consent of either party to the marriage was obtained by force or fraud in any case
in which the marriage might be annulled on this ground by the law of England;

(d) that the marriage is invalid by the law of the Colony.
(2) A marriage shall, subject to subsection (3), be voidable on any of the following grounds-

(a) that the marriage has not been consummated owing to the wilful refusal of the respondent



Cap 179 - MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE 11

to consummate it; or
(b) that at the time of the marriage either party to the marriage-

(i) was of unsound mind, or
(ii) was a mentally disordered person within the meaning of the Mental Health Ordinance

(Cap 136) of such a kind or to such an extent as to be unfitted for marriage and the
procreation of children, or

(iii) was subject to recurrent attacks of insanity or epilepsy; or
(c) that the respondent was at the time of the marriage suffering from venereal disease in a

communicable form; or
(d) that the respondent was at the time of the marriage pregnant by some person other than

the petitioner; or
(e) that at the time of the marriage either party to the marriage was impotent or incapable of

consummating the marriage. [cf. 1965 c. 72 s. 9(1) U.K.]
(3) The court shall not grant a decree of nullity in a case falling within paragraph (b), (c) or (d) of

subsection (2) unless it is satisfied that-
(a) the petitioner was at the time of the marriage ignorant of the facts alleged; and
(b) proceedings were instituted within a year from the date of the marriage; and
(c) marital intercourse with the consent of the petitioner has not taken place since the

petitioner discovered the existence of the grounds for a decree. [cf. 1965 c. 72 s. 9(2)
U.K.]

(4) Nothing in this section shall be construed as validating a marriage which is by law void but
with respect to which a decree of nullity has not been granted. [cf. 1965 c. 72 s. 9(3) U.K.]


Section: 20A Foreign marriages L.N. 175 of 2010 01/03/2011


(1) Where apart from this Ordinance, any matter affecting the validity of a marriage would fall to be
determined (in accordance with the rules of private international law) by reference to the law of a place outside Hong
Kong, nothing in section 20 shall- (Amended 20 of 2010 s. 6)

(a) preclude the determination of that matter as aforesaid; or
(b) require the application to the marriage of the grounds or bars mentioned therein except so far as

applicable in accordance with those rules.
(2) In the case of a marriage which has taken place outside Hong Kong and purports to be a marriage under

common law, section 20(1) is without prejudice to any ground on which the marriages may be void by virtue of the
rules governing the celebration of marriages outside Hong Kong under common law. (Amended 23 of 1998 s. 2; 25 of
1998 s. 2)

(Added 33 of 1972 s. 13)
[cf. 1971 c. 44 s. 4 U.K.]


Section: 20B Decree of nullity in case of voidable marriage 30/06/1997


A decree of nullity granted after 30 June 1972 on the ground that a marriage is voidable shall operate to annul
the marriage only as respects any time after the decree has been made absolute, and the marriage shall,
notwithstanding the decree, be treated as if it had existed up to that time.

(Added 33 of 1972 s. 13) [cf. 1971 c. 44 s. 5 U.K.]

Section: 21 Granting of decree of nullity 30/06/1997


If the court is satisfied that the case for the petition has been proved, the court shall grant a decree of nullity.

Section: 22 Application of ss. 15(5), 16 and 17 to nullity proceedings 30/06/1997


Sections 15(5), 16 and 17 shall apply in relation to proceedings for nullity of marriage as if for any reference in
those provisions to divorce there were substituted a reference to nullity of marriage.

(Amended 33 of 1972 s. 14) [cf. 1965 c. 72 s. 10 U.K.]




Cap 179 - MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE 12

Section: 23 Collusion not to be bar to relief in nullity proceedings 30/06/1997


Collusion shall not be a bar to the granting of a decree of nullity, whether the marriage took place, or the
proceedings were instituted, before or after 1 July 1972.

(Added 33 of 1972 s. 15) [cf. 1971 c. 44 s. 6(1) U.K.]

Part: V OTHER MATRIMONIAL SUITS 30/06/1997




Section: 24 Judicial separation 30/06/1997


(1) A petition for judicial separation may be presented to the court by either party to a marriage on the ground
that any such fact as is mentioned in section 11A(2) exists, and sections 11C, 15A and 18A shall apply in relation to
such a petition as if they apply in relation to a petition for divorce. (Replaced 33 of 1972 s. 16. Amended 29 of 1995
s. 17) [cf. 1969 c. 55 s. 8(2) U.K.]

(1A) The court hearing a petition for judicial separation shall not be concerned to consider whether the marriage
has broken down irretrievably and if it is satisfied on the evidence of any such fact as is mentioned in section 11A(2),
it shall, subject to section 18 of the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Ordinance (Cap 192), grant a decree of
judicial separation. (Added 33 of 1972 s. 16. Amended 39 of 1972 s. 33; 29 of 1995 s. 17) [cf. 1969 c. 55 s. 8(3)
U.K.]

(2) Where the court grants a decree of judicial separation it shall no longer be obligatory for the petitioner to
cohabit with the respondent.

(3) The court may, on an application by petition of the spouse against whom a decree of judicial separation has
been made and on being satisfied that the allegations in the petition are true, rescind the decree at any time on the
ground that it was obtained in the absence of the applicant. (Amended 29 of 1995 s. 14)

[cf. 1965 c. 72 s. 12 U.K.]

Section: 25 (Repealed with savings-see s. 33 of 39 of 1972) 30/06/1997




Section: 26 Presumption of death and dissolution of marriage 30/06/1997


Expanded Cross Reference:

16, 17, 17A, 18, 18A, 18B



(1) Any married person who alleges that reasonable grounds exist for supposing that the other party to the
marriage is dead may present a petition to the court to have it presumed that the other party is dead and to have the
marriage dissolved, and the court may, if satisfied that such reasonable grounds exist, make a decree of presumption of
death and dissolution of the marriage.

(2) In any proceedings under this section the fact that for a period of 7 years or more the other party to the
marriage has been continually absent from the petitioner and the petitioner has no reason to believe that the other party
has been living within that time shall be evidence that the other party is dead until the contrary is proved.

(3) Section 15(5) and sections 16 to 18 shall apply to a petition and a decree under this section as they apply to
a petition for divorce and a decree of divorce respectively. (Amended 33 of 1972 s. 17)

(4) Neither collusion nor any other conduct on the part of the petitioner which has at any time been a bar to
relief in matrimonial proceedings shall constitute a bar to the grant of a decree under this section. (Added 33 of 1972
s. 17) [cf. 1971 c. 44 s. 6(2) U.K.]

[cf. 1965 c. 72 s. 14 U.K.]

Part: VI ANCILLARY RELIEF 30/06/1997






Cap 179 - MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE 13

Section: 27 (Repealed with savings-see s. 33 of 39 of 1972) 30/06/1997




Section: 28 (Repealed with savings-see s. 33 of 39 of 1972) 30/06/1997




Section: 29 (Repealed with savings-see s. 33 of 39 of 1972) 30/06/1997




Section: 30 (Repealed with savings-see s. 33 of 39 of 1972) 30/06/1997




Section: 31 (Repealed with savings-see s. 33 of 39 of 1972) 30/06/1997




Section: 32 30/06/1997


Remarks:
Repealed with savings-see s. 33 of 39 of 1972. Subsection (3)*, reproduced below, shall, however, continue to apply to
a case where the death occurred before 1 July 1972.



________________________________________________________________________________
Note:
* The repealed section 32(3) is reproduced as follows:

"(3) In a case of judicial separation-
(a) any property which is acquired by or devolves upon the wife on or after the date of the decree

whilst the separation continues; and
(b) where the decree is obtained by the wife, any property to which she is entitled for an estate in

remainder or reversion on the date of the decree,
shall, if she dies intestate, devolve as if her husband had then been dead.".


Section: 33 (Repealed with savings-see s. 33 of 39 of 1972) 30/06/1997




Section: 34 (Repealed with savings-see s. 33 of 39 of 1972) 30/06/1997




Section: 35 (Repealed with savings-see s. 33 of 39 of 1972) 30/06/1997




Section: 36 (Repealed with savings-see s. 33 of 39 of 1972) 30/06/1997




Section: 37 30/06/1997


Remarks:
Repealed with savings-see s. 33 of 39 of 1972. Subsections (4) and (5)*, reproduced below, as applied by section 40(2)
are still in force.



________________________________________________________________________________
Note:
* The repealed section 37(4) and (5) is reproduced as follows:

"(4) In considering for the purposes of subsection (1) the question when representation was first taken



Cap 179 - MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE 14

out, a grant limited to settled land or to trust property shall be left out of account, and a grant limited to real
estate or to personal estate shall be left out of account unless a grant limited to the remainder of the estate
has previously been made or is made at the same time.

(5) For the purposes of any law which relates to the discretion of the court as to the persons to whom
administration is to be granted, a person by whom an application is proposed to be made by virtue of this
section shall be deemed to be a person interested in the deceased's estate.".

Section: 38 (Repealed 58 of 1995 s. 29) 30/06/1997




Section: 39 (Repealed 58 of 1995 s. 29) 30/06/1997




Section: 40 (Repealed 58 of 1995 s. 29) 30/06/1997




Section: 41 (Repealed with savings-see s. 33 of 39 of 1972) 30/06/1997




Section: 42 (Repealed with savings-see s. 33 of 39 of 1972) 30/06/1997




Section: 43 (Repealed with savings-see s. 33 of 39 of 1972) 30/06/1997




Section: 44 (Repealed with savings-see s. 33 of 39 of 1972) 30/06/1997




Part: VII PROTECTION OF CHILDREN 30/06/1997




Section: 45 (Repealed with savings-see s. 33 of 39 of 1972) 30/06/1997




Section: 46 (Repealed with savings-see s. 33 of 39 of 1972) 30/06/1997




Section: 47 (Repealed with savings-see s. 33 of 39 of 1972) 30/06/1997




Section: 48 Power to provide for supervision of children L.N. 387 of 1997 04/07/1997


(1) Where the court has jurisdiction by virtue of this Ordinance or of the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property
Ordinance (Cap 192) to make an order for the custody of a child and it appears to the court that there are exceptional
circumstances making it desirable that the child should be under the supervision of an independent person, the court
may, as respects any period during which the child is, in exercise of that jurisdiction, committed to the custody of any
person, order that the child be under the supervision of the Director of Social Welfare. (Amended 39 of 1972 s. 33)

(2) Where a child is under the supervision of the Director of Social Welfare in pursuance of this section the
jurisdiction possessed by a court to vary any order made with respect to the child's custody, maintenance or education
under this Ordinance or under the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Ordinance (Cap 192) shall, subject to any
rules, be exercisable at the instance of that court itself. (Amended 39 of 1972 s. 33)

(3) The court shall have power from time to time by an order under this section to vary or discharge any
provision made in pursuance of this section.

(4) The court shall not make an order that a child be under the supervision of the Director of Social Welfare



Cap 179 - MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE 15

under this section after the child has attained the age of 18, and an order made by virtue of this section shall cease to
have effect as respects any child when he attains that age. (Added 69 of 1997 s. 19)

[cf. 1965 c. 72 s. 37 U.K.]

Section: 48A Power to commit children to care of Director of Social

Welfare
L.N. 387 of 1997 04/07/1997



(1) Where the court has jurisdiction by virtue of this Ordinance or the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property
Ordinance (Cap 192) to make an order for the custody of a child and it appears to the court that there are exceptional
circumstances making it impracticable or undesirable for the child to be entrusted to either of the parties to the
marriage or to any other individual, the court may, if it thinks fit, make an order committing the care of the child to the
Director of Social Welfare.

(2) The court shall before making an order under this section hear any representations from the Director of
Social Welfare, including any representations as to the making of a financial provision order in favour of the child.

(3) While an order made by virtue of this section is in force with respect to a child, the child shall continue in
the care of the Director of Social Welfare notwithstanding any claim by a parent of the child or another person.

(4) The court shall not make an order committing the care of a child to the Director of Social Welfare under
this section after the child has attained the age of 18, and an order made by virtue of this section shall cease to have
effect as respects any child when he attains that age. (Replaced 69 of 1997 s. 20)

(5) The court shall have power from time to time by an order under this section to vary or discharge any
provision made in pursuance of this section.

(Added 10 of 1983 s. 2)
[cf. 1973 c. 18 s. 43 U.K.]


Section: 48B Parent or guardian to inform Director of Social Welfare of

change of address
30/06/1997



Each parent or guardian of a child who, for the time being, is-
(a) under the supervision of the Director of Social Welfare by virtue of an order made under section 48; or
(b) in the care of the Director of Social Welfare by virtue of an order made under section 48A,

shall within 1 month give notice to the Director of any change of address of that parent or guardian and any person
who without reasonable excuse fails to comply with this section commits an offence and is liable to a fine of $5000.

(Added 10 of 1983 s. 2)

Section: 48C Application of section 3 of the Guardianship of Minors

Ordinance (Cap 13)
30/06/1997



For the avoidance of doubt, section 3 of the Guardianship of Minors Ordinance (Cap 13) (which provides that
the welfare of the minor shall be the first and paramount consideration) shall apply in relation to any order for the
custody care or supervision of a child which may be made under this Ordinance or the Matrimonial Proceedings and
Property Ordinance (Cap 192).

(Added 10 of 1983 s. 2)

Section: 48D Order for prohibiting removal of child out of Hong Kong L.N. 5 of 2016 05/04/2016


(1) This section applies to a child of the family as defined by section 2(1) of the Matrimonial Proceedings and
Property Ordinance (Cap 192) who is under the age of 18.

(2) If a parent of the child is a party to any proceedings under this Ordinance, that parent may apply to the court for
an order prohibiting the removal of the child out of Hong Kong, or out of the custody, care or control of a person
named in the application, except—
(a) with the leave of the court; or
(b) on compliance with the terms specified in the order.

(3) Unless otherwise directed by the court, the application may be made ex parte.
(Added 16 of 2014 s. 19)



Cap 179 - MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE 16


Part: VIII MISCELLANEOUS 30/06/1997




Section: 49 Declarations of legitimacy, etc. L.N. 362 of 1997;
25 of 1998; 28 of
1998

01/07/1997



Remarks:
Adaptation amendments retroactively made - see 25 of 1998 s. 2; 28 of 1998 s. 2


(1) Any person may, if he is domiciled in Hong Kong or claims any real or personal estate situate in Hong
Kong, apply by petition to the court for a decree declaring that he is the legitimate child of his parents, or that the
marriage of his father and mother or of his grandfather and grandmother was a valid marriage or that his own marriage
was a valid marriage. (Amended 80 of 1982 s. 2; 28 of 1998 s. 2)

(2) Any person claiming that he or his parent or any remoter ancestor became or has become a legitimated
person may apply by petition to the court, or may apply to the District Court in the manner prescribed by rules, for a
decree declaring that he or his parent or remoter ancestor, as the case may be, became or has become a legitimated
person.

In this subsection, "legitimated person" (獲確立婚生地位人士) means a person legitimated or recognized as
legitimated by or under any law.

(3) Where an application under subsection (2) is made to the District Court, the District Court, if it considers
that the case is one which owing to the value of the property involved or otherwise ought to be dealt with by the High
Court, may, and if so ordered by the High Court shall, transfer the matter to the High Court; and on such a transfer the
proceeding shall be continued in the High Court as if it had been originally commenced by petition to the High Court.

(4) (Repealed 28 of 1998 s. 2)
(5) Applications to the High Court (but not to the District Court) under the foregoing provisions of this section

may be included in the same petition, and on any application under the foregoing provisions of this section (including
an application to the District Court) the High Court or the District Court shall make such decree as it thinks just, and
the decree shall be binding on Her Majesty and all other persons whatsoever, so however that the decree shall not
prejudice any person-

(a) if it is subsequently proved to have been obtained by fraud or collusion; or
(b) unless that person has been given notice of the application in the manner prescribed by rules or made a

party to the proceedings or claims through a person so given notice or made a party.
(6) A copy of every application under this section and of any affidavit accompanying it shall be delivered to the

Secretary for Justice at least one month before the application is made, and the Secretary for Justice shall be a
respondent on the hearing of the application and on any subsequent proceedings relating thereto. (Amended L.N. 362
of 1997)

(7) Where any application is made under this section, such persons as the High Court or the District Court
thinks fit shall, subject to rules, be given notice of the application in the manner prescribed by rules, and any such
persons may be permitted to become parties to the proceedings and to oppose the application.

(8) No proceedings under this section shall affect any final judgment or decree already pronounced or made by
any court of competent jurisdiction.

(Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)
[cf. 1965 c. 72 s. 39 U.K.]


Section: 50 Abolition of actions for damages for adultery and criminal

conversation
30/06/1997



(1) After the commencement of this Ordinance, no action shall lie for-
(a) damages for adultery; or
(b) criminal conversation.

(2) Subsection (1) shall not have effect in relation to any action that has been commenced before the
commencement of the Matrimonial Causes (Amendment) Ordinance 1995 (29 of 1995).



Cap 179 - MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE 17

(Replaced 29 of 1995 s. 16)

Section: 51 (Repealed 33 of 1972 s. 24) 30/06/1997




Section: 52 Evidence 23 of 2003 04/07/2003


(1)-(2) (Repealed 23 of 2003 s. 9)
(3) In any proceedings for nullity of marriage, evidence on the question of sexual capacity shall be heard in

camera unless in any case the judge is satisfied that in the interests of justice any such evidence ought to be heard in
open court.

[cf. 1965 c. 72 s. 43 U.K.]

Section: 53 Power to allow intervention on terms 30/06/1997


In every case in which any person is charged with adultery with any party to a suit or in which the court may
consider, in the interest of any person not already a party to the suit, that that person should be made a party to the suit,
the court may if it thinks fit allow that person to intervene upon such terms, if any, as the court thinks just.

[cf. 1965 c. 72 s. 44 U.K.]

Section: 53A Interest on arrears of maintenance L.N. 26 of 2005 01/05/2005


(1) In this section and section 53B—
*“commencement date” (生效日期 ) means the date on which the Interest and Surcharge on Arrears of

Maintenance Ordinance 2003 (18 of 2003) comes into operation;
“judgment creditor” (判定債權人) means a person entitled to enforce a maintenance order;
“judgment debtor” (判定債務人) means a person liable under a maintenance order;
“maintenance order” (贍養令) means an order made in the matrimonial cause for the payment of money.

(2) Where a maintenance order has been made against a judgment debtor, and the judgment debtor fails to
make full and punctual payment in compliance with the maintenance order, the judgment creditor is entitled to interest
in respect of arrears of maintenance which accrue on or after the commencement date.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2)—
(a) the arrears in respect of each periodical payment, secured periodical payment or payment of a lump

sum, as the case may be, under a maintenance order shall be treated as a judgment debt for the
purposes of section 50 of the District Court Ordinance (Cap 336);

(b) the interest under subsection (2) shall be calculated in accordance with that section 50; and
(c) for the purposes of that section 50, the date on which payment is due as specified by the maintenance

order shall be treated as the date of the judgment.
(4) The judgment debtor is liable to pay the interest under subsection (2).
(5) If any payment under a maintenance order is not paid and interest in respect of the arrears has accrued

under subsection (2), and subsequently the judgment debtor makes payment, the payment is deemed to be made in the
following order in or towards the discharge of—

(a) interest accrued under subsection (2);
(b) surcharge payable under section 53B;
(c) if there are any proceedings instituted for enforcing the maintenance order, the costs ordered by the

court to be paid under those proceedings;
(d) any sums from time to time falling due under the maintenance order, with the sums discharged in the

reversed chronological sequence of the dates on which payment is due (that is, the most recent arrears
will be discharged first);

(e) if the court makes an order in any proceedings instituted for enforcing the maintenance order, the
amount of the maintenance in arrears, whether in one amount or by instalments, payable by the
judgment debtor under the order.

(6) A judgment debtor who considers that he has reasonable grounds not to pay the interest under subsection



Cap 179 - MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE 18

(2) may, within a reasonable time after having knowledge of the requirement to pay, apply by summons to the court
not to pay the interest, and shall set out the grounds in the application.

(7) If an application is made under subsection (6), in deciding whether to require the judgment debtor to pay
interest and, if so, the amount of interest, the court shall take into account all the circumstances of the case, including
(but not limited to) the following—

(a) whether the judgment debtor has a reasonable excuse for his failure to comply with the maintenance
order;

(b) whether the judgment debtor has evaded service of court documents;
(c) the judgment debtor’s past record and conduct in connection with the making of maintenance

payments to the judgment creditor pursuant to the maintenance order or an undertaking in any
proceedings;

(d) whether the judgment debtor has given the judgment creditor a reasonable explanation for his failure to
comply with the maintenance order; and

(e) the judgment debtor’s ability to pay.
(8) A judgment debtor who is aggrieved by a requirement under subsection (7) to pay interest may appeal to the

Court of Appeal against the decision under section 63 of the District Court Ordinance (Cap 336).
(Added 18 of 2003 s. 8)

________________________________________________________________________________
Note:
* Commencement date : 1 May 2005.

Section: 53B Surcharge on arrears of maintenance L.N. 26 of 2005 01/05/2005


(1) Where a maintenance order has been made against a judgment debtor, and the judgment debtor, without
reasonable excuse, repeatedly fails to make full and punctual payment in compliance with the maintenance order, the
court may, on application made by the judgment creditor, make an order requiring the judgment debtor to pay to the
judgment creditor a surcharge in respect of the total arrears of maintenance which accrue on or after the
commencement date.

(2) The application for a surcharge under subsection (1) may be made—
(a) in proceedings instituted for enforcing the maintenance order; or
(b) in a manner described in subsections (3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8) and (9).

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2)(b), the application for a surcharge shall be made by a summons
supported by an affidavit of the judgment creditor stating—

(a) the name of the judgment creditor and the address for service of the documents relating to the
application;

(b) the name and the address for service or last known address of the judgment debtor;
(c) the particulars of the maintenance order;
(d) the total arrears of maintenance due and unpaid and the date on which the arrears first accrued;
(e) a request for an order requiring the judgment debtor to pay surcharge at a rate to be decided by the

court under subsection (11);
(f) a request for fixing a date, time and place for the hearing of the application;
(g) a request for an order requiring the judgment debtor to pay to the judgment creditor the surcharge

claimed if the judgment debtor does not appear at the hearing.
(4) On receipt of the summons and affidavit, the court shall fix a date, time and place for the hearing of the

application.
(5) The judgment creditor shall serve a sealed copy of the summons and a copy of the affidavit, together with a

notice of the hearing, on the judgment debtor.
(6) Without prejudice to any enactment relating to the service of documents and save as is otherwise expressly

provided, the summons, affidavit and notice may—
(a) be personally served on the judgment debtor; or
(b) be sent—

(i) if the judgment debtor is represented, by post to the solicitor acting for that judgment debtor, or
by leaving the same with the solicitor; or

(ii) if the judgment debtor is unrepresented, by post to the address for service given by him or his last



Cap 179 - MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE 19

known address, or by leaving the same at the address for service or the last known address of that
judgment debtor; or

(c) be served in such other manner as the court directs.
(7) If the judgment debtor fails to appear at the hearing of the application on the date fixed under subsection

(4), then—
(a) if the court is satisfied that the summons, affidavit and notice have been duly served on the judgment

debtor, it may proceed to hear the application and may make an order requiring the judgment debtor to
pay a surcharge to the judgment creditor;

(b) if the court is not satisfied that the summons, affidavit and notice have been duly served on the
judgment debtor, it may adjourn the hearing to a date, time and place as it thinks fit.

(8) The judgment creditor shall serve a notice of the adjourned hearing on the judgment debtor.
(9) If the judgment debtor fails to appear at the adjourned hearing on the date fixed under subsection (7)(b), the

court may proceed to hear the application and may make an order requiring the judgment debtor to pay a surcharge to
the judgment creditor.

(10) If the judgment debtor, within a reasonable time after having knowledge of the order made under subsection
(7)(a) or (9), applies by summons to vary or set aside the order, the court may, if it is satisfied that there is reasonable
excuse for the judgment debtor’s failure to—

(a) appear at the hearing; and
(b) make full and punctual payment in compliance with the maintenance order,

vary or set aside the order on such terms as it thinks fit.
(11) The amount of surcharge payable by the judgment debtor under subsection (1) shall not exceed 100% of the

total arrears of maintenance calculated from the date on which the arrears first accrued to the date of payment of the
surcharge.

(12) If the court makes an order requiring the judgment debtor to pay a surcharge, it shall specify in the order the
amount of surcharge payable by the judgment debtor and the date of payment.

(13) A surcharge payable under this section is recoverable as a civil debt due to the judgment creditor by the
judgment debtor. An action under this subsection may be brought in the District Court even though the amount to be
recovered otherwise exceeds the limit of jurisdiction of the District Court.

(14) A judgment debtor who is aggrieved by an order to pay a surcharge may appeal to the Court of Appeal
against the order under section 63 of the District Court Ordinance (Cap 336).

(Added 18 of 2003 s. 8)

Section: 54 Rules 10 of 2005 08/07/2005


(1) The Chief Judge may make rules for the better carrying out of the purposes and provisions of this
Ordinance and in particular, but without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, may make rules- (Amended 10
of 2005 s. 14)

(a) as to all matters of procedure under this Ordinance;
(b) prescribing the forms to be used under this Ordinance;
(c) with regard to any matter as to which rules may be made under this Ordinance;
(d) providing for the enforcement in the High Court of orders made under this Ordinance in the District

Court. (Added 37 of 1971 s. 4. Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)
(2) The Chief Judge, with the approval by resolution of the Legislative Council, may make rules prescribing the

fees and costs to be paid, charged or allowed under this Ordinance. (Amended 10 of 2005 s. 14)
(3) (Repealed 79 of 1981 s. 5)


Section: 54A Validation of Matrimonial Causes (Amendment) Rules

1982
30/06/1997



For the removal of doubt, the Matrimonial Causes (Amendment) Rules 1982 (L.N. 325 of 1982) made by the
Chief Justice under section 54 of the Matrimonial Causes Ordinance, are deemed to have been made by the Chief
Justice in the exercise of his powers under that section and under section 32 of the Matrimonial Proceedings and
Property Ordinance (Cap 192) and accordingly to be and always to have been valid.

(Added 72 of 1985 s. 2)



Cap 179 - MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE 20


Section: 54B Abolition of right to petition for jactitation of marriage 30/06/1997


No person shall after the commencement of this provision be entitled to petition the court for jactitation of
marriage.

(Added 80 of 1997 s. 82)

Part: IX RECOGNITION OF OVERSEAS DIVORCES AND

LEGAL SEPARATIONS
30/06/1997



(Part IX added 11 of 1972 s. 2)

Section: 55 Recognition in Hong Kong of overseas divorces and legal

separations
L.N. 175 of 2010 01/03/2011



Expanded Cross Reference:

56,57,58



(1) Sections 56 to 58 shall have effect, subject to section 61, as respects the recognition in Hong Kong of the
validity of overseas divorces and legal separations.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1) "overseas divorces and legal separations" (外地離婚及合法分居)
means divorces and legal separations which-

(a) have been obtained by means of judicial or other proceedings in any place outside Hong Kong; and
(b) are effective under the law of that place. (Amended 20 of 2010 s. 6)

[cf. 1971 c. 53 s. 2 U.K.]

Section: 56 Grounds for recognition L.N. 175 of 2010 01/03/2011


(1) The validity of an overseas divorce or legal separation shall be recognized if, at the date of the institution of
the proceedings in the place in which it was obtained- (Amended 20 of 2010 s. 6)

(a) either spouse was habitually resident in that place; or
(b) either spouse was a national of that place.

(2) In relation to a place the law of which uses the concept of domicile as a ground of jurisdiction in matters of
divorce or legal separation, subsection (1)(a) shall have effect as if the reference to habitual residence included a
reference to domicile within the meaning of that law.

(3) (Repealed 20 of 2010 s. 7)
(Amended 20 of 2010 s. 6)

[cf. 1971 c. 53 s. 3 U.K.]

Section: 57 Cross-proceedings and divorces following legal separations L.N. 175 of 2010 01/03/2011


(1) Where there have been cross-proceedings, the validity of an overseas divorce or legal separation obtained
either in the original proceedings or in the cross-proceedings shall be recognized if the requirements of paragraph (a)
or (b) of section 56(1) are satisfied in relation to the date of the institution either of the original proceedings or of the
cross-proceedings.

(2) Where a legal separation the validity of which is entitled to recognition by virtue of the provisions of
section 56 or of subsection (1) of this section is converted, in the place in which it was obtained, into a divorce, the
validity of the divorce shall be recognized whether or not it would itself be entitled to recognition by virtue of those
provisions. (Amended 20 of 2010 s. 6)

[cf. 1971 c. 53 s. 4 U.K.]

Section: 58 Proof of facts relevant to recognition L.N. 175 of 2010 01/03/2011


(1) For the purpose of deciding whether an overseas divorce or legal separation is entitled to recognition by



Cap 179 - MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE 21

virtue of this Part, any finding of fact made (whether expressly or by implication) in the proceedings by means of
which the divorce or legal separation was obtained and on the basis of which jurisdiction was assumed in those
proceedings shall-

(a) if both spouses took part in the proceedings, be conclusive evidence of the fact found; and
(b) in any other case, be sufficient proof of that fact unless the contrary is shown.

(2) In this section, "finding of fact" (就事實所作的裁斷) includes a finding that either spouse was habitually
resident or domiciled in, or a national of, the place in which the divorce or legal separation was obtained; and for the
purposes of subsection (1)(a), a spouse who has appeared in judicial proceedings shall be treated as having taken part
in them. (Amended 20 of 2010 s. 6)

[cf. 1971 c. 53 s. 5 U.K.]

Section: 59 Certain existing rules of recognition to continue in force L.N. 175 of 2010 01/03/2011


This Part is without prejudice to the recognition of the validity of divorces and legal separations obtained outside
Hong Kong-

(a) by virtue of any rule of law relating to divorces or legal separations obtained in the place of either
spouse's domicile or obtained elsewhere and recognized as valid in that place; (Amended 4 of 2008 s.
16; 20 of 2010 s. 6)

(b) by virtue of any enactment other than this Ordinance, (Amended 25 of 1998 s. 2)
but, save as aforesaid, no such divorce or legal separation shall be recognized as valid in Hong Kong except as
provided in this Part.

[cf. 1971 c. 53 s. 6 U.K.]

Section: 60 Non-recognition of divorce by third place no bar to

remarriage*
L.N. 175 of 2010 01/03/2011



Where the validity of a divorce obtained in any place is entitled to recognition by virtue of this Part or of any
rule or enactment preserved by section 59, neither spouse shall be precluded from remarrying in Hong Kong on the
ground that the validity of the divorce would not be recognized in any other place.

(Amended 20 of 2010 s. 6)
[cf. 1971 c. 53 s. 7 U.K.]

__________________________________________________________________________
Note:
* (Amended 20 of 2010 s. 8)

Section: 61 Exceptions from recognition 30/06/1997


(1) The validity of a divorce or legal separation obtained outside Hong Kong shall not be recognized in Hong
Kong if it was granted or obtained at a time when, according to the law of Hong Kong (including its rules of private
international law and the provisions of this Part), there was no subsisting marriage between the parties.

(2) Subject to subsection (1), recognition by virtue of this Part or of any rule preserved by section 59 of the
validity of a divorce or legal separation obtained outside Hong Kong may be refused if, and only if-

(a) it was obtained by one spouse-
(i) without such steps having been taken for giving notice of the proceedings to the other spouse as,

having regard to the nature of the proceedings and all the circumstances, should reasonably have
been taken; or

(ii) without the other spouse having been given (for any reason other than lack of notice) such
opportunity to take part in the proceedings as, having regard to the matters aforesaid, he should
reasonably have been given; or

(b) its recognition would manifestly be contrary to public policy.
(3) Nothing in this Part shall be construed as requiring the recognition of any findings of fault made in any

proceedings for divorce or separation or of any maintenance, custody or other ancillary order made in any such
proceedings.

[cf. 1971 c. 53 s. 8 U.K.]




Cap 179 - MATRIMONIAL CAUSES ORDINANCE 22

Section: 62 Interpretation and transitional provisions L.N. 175 of 2010 01/03/2011


(1) In this Part, "place" (地方) includes a colony or other dependent territory of the United Kingdom but for
the purposes of this Part a person shall be treated as a national of such a colony or dependent territory only if it has a
law of citizenship or nationality separate from that of the United Kingdom and he is a citizen or national of that colony
or dependent territory under that law. (Amended 20 of 2010 s. 9)

(2) The provisions of this Part relating to overseas divorces and legal separations and other divorces and legal
separations obtained outside Hong Kong apply to a divorce or legal separation obtained before 1 April 1972 as well as
to one obtained on or after that date and, in the case of a divorce or legal separation obtained before that date-

(a) require, or, as the case may be, preclude, the recognition of its validity in relation to any time before
that date as well as in relation to any subsequent time; but

(b) do not affect any property rights to which any person became entitled before that date or apply where
the question of the validity of the divorce or legal separation has been decided by the court before that
date.

[cf. 1971 c. 53 s. 10(3) & (4) U.K.]

Section: 63 Transitional L.N. 387 of 1997 04/07/1997


The amendments to sections 48 and 48A of this Ordinance made by sections 19 and 20 of the Marriage and
Children (Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance 1997 (69 of 1997) ("the amending Ordinance") do not apply in
relation to orders for the care or supervision of a child made under this Ordinance before the commencement of the
amending Ordinance, and the provisions of this Ordinance in force immediately before the commencement of the
amending Ordinance continue to apply in relation to those orders as if the amending Ordinance had not been enacted.

(Added 69 of 1997 s. 21)

Related Laws