In September 2021, Haldanes was named Matrimonial and Family Law Firm of the Year at the 20th annual ALB Hong Kong Law Awards, solidifying its position as a leading firm in this area.

“I would specifically like to thank my team for all the hard work and late nights - it has been a very difficult year for everybody. However, we endeavour to provide the best service going forward,” said Elsie Liu, the Head of Family Law Group in Haldanes, also a family mediator with an active mediation practice, during the awards ceremony.

Haldanes’ Family & Matrimonial Practice

Elsie joined the firm in 2003. Back then, the fi rm’s matrimonial and family law practice was fairly modest in size. But over the past 18 years, the department has developed and expanded in size to a team of nine members, consisting of four partners, a consultant, and four associates.

With the expansion, the matrimonial department has a wider offering of services covering divorce proceedings, separation, financial disputes, child custody (for married and unmarried couples), Hague convention proceedings, child relocation and more.

Hong Kong’s divorce rate has grown significantly in the last decade, making professional advice on issues regarding matrimonial and family law critical.

“We are seeing increased demand from clients based in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Due to the recent immigration trend in Hong Kong, we have had an increasing demand for support in child-relocation applications,” said Elsie.

“Another area where we see increased demand is for the preparation of pre-nuptial agreements which are becoming more popular in Hong Kong.”

Even though it is a firm with local roots, Haldanes serves a diverse set of clients. It has a mix of local, expatriate, and mainland Chinese clients, and Haldanes is perfectly capable of providing legal services to clients located in different jurisdictions in cases with a Hong Kong family law element.

What have been some highlights of the firm’s work in this area?

In a recent case, Haldanes counselled the descendant of an affluent PRC family with a large business in the mainland and assets worldwide in preparing a pre-nuptial agreement.

In preparing prenuptial agreements, lawyers consider questions such as where the couple currently lives, the possibility of relocation to other jurisdictions in the future, where their assets are situated and the relevant matrimonial laws in those jurisdictions.

In another case, Haldanes advised a wife on the choice of forum in which to commence her divorce proceedings, in the mainland or Hong Kong, as much of the family assets are Hong Kong-listed company shares while couple lives in the PRC.

In this case, lawyers considered which of the courts in the PRC or Hong Kong would have jurisdiction over the case and compared their respective laws.

When it comes to complex cases, it is helpful for a firm have experts in various practice areas to figure out an ideal solution.

“We recently handled a high-net-worth case in which one of the parties commenced company insolvency proceedings against one of the family companies, opening a new front in the dispute and requiring us to collaborate with our civil litigation colleagues to fight both cases at once,” said Willard Li, a partner in the matrimonial and family law practice at Haldanes.

Moving forward

“Our clients may have other needs arising from their family law cases, such as wills drafting, commercial advice on terms of financial settlement agreements and the transfer of private company shares, civil litigation support for litigation disputes (for example, company insolvency applications arising out of the divorce case) and conveyancing services for effecting financial settlements where landed properties may be sold or transferred. There are also criminal law issues which sometimes arise, such as in cases involving domestic violence.”

The team at Haldanes are also eager to share their knowledge in this area with the public.

Matrimonial and family law partner Anita Leung was invited to give a seminar to Manulife staff on the issues involved in cross-border divorce cases in January 2020. Anita Leung was also interviewed by a well-known Youtuber, ukricestore, in February 2021, on issues relating to the relocation of children from divorced families.

Elsie Liu
Head of Family and Matrimonial
T: (852) 2230 2895

7/F Ruttonjee House
11 Duddell Street, Central, Hong Kong