C, Lt v O, G

CourtFamily Court (Hong Kong)
Judgment Date20 May 2016
Judgement NumberFCMP151/2014
SubjectMiscellaneous Proceedings
FCMP151/2014 C, LT v. O, G

FCMP 151 / 2014

IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE

HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION

FAMILY COURT

MISCELLANEOUS PROCEEDINGS

NUMBER 151 OF 2014

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IN THE MATTER of Section 10(2)(a) of Guardianship of Minors Ordinance (Cap 13)
and
IN THE MATTER of ODJC, a Minor

BETWEEN
C, LT Applicant
and
O, G Respondent

Coram: Her Honour Judge Sharon D. Melloy in Chambers (Not open to public)
Date of Hearing: 13 May 2016
Date of Ruling: 20 May 2016

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RULING
(Choice of kindergarten)

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Introduction

1. This is an originating summons issued by an Applicant mother to determine the educational arrangements for a little boy – who I will refer to as D. Although the parties reached agreement on all the main issues relating to D they were unable to reach consensus on which Kindergarten he should attend and whether that should be an English speaking Kindergarten or a Cantonese speaking one. The mother is a Filipino domestic helper and the father is a Scot who works in the hospitality industry. The mother speaks no Cantonese and the father has some basic conversational Cantonese. It is the mother’s case that it would be in D’s best interests for him to be taught in an English speaking environment. The father disagrees and asks that he be taught in the local education system. This is mainly because the father says that he cannot afford to pay for the fees associated with attendance at an English speaking kindergarten. It is acknowledged that in an ideal world D should be educated in his mother tongue. This was also referred to in the literature attached to the mother’s affidavit. The Social Welfare Officer also acknowledged this fact in the witness box. For the avoidance of doubt I also accept that this would be preferable.

2. The mother works for a Mainland Chinese employer who lives on the South side of Hong Kong Island. The mother’s employer has been very supportive of the mother, which in part has enabled D to continue to reside in Hong Kong. The father wishes D to attend one of three Government funded kindergartens on the south side of the Island namely A Kindergarten (Stanley), B Kindergarten or C Kindergarten. The medium of instruction in all three Kindergartens is Cantonese. The mother for her part has put forward a number of different options including D International Kindergarten, E Kindergarten and the F school in Stanley. These are all international kindergartens whose medium of instruction is English. When asked she was not able to proffer any other cheaper English speaking alternatives. The mother’s preference is E which she says is the cheapest option at HK$5,800 per month over 10 months. However according to the documents provided D might actually be marginally cheaper at HK$4,780 per month rising to HK$5,880 for P1. In either event the father says that these figures are beyond his ability to pay.

3. D is 2 ¾ years old having been born on the XX August 2013. He is not presently attending any formal playgroups. He lives with his mother at her employer’s home and he sees his father mainly at weekends. The father tends to work irregular hours. The father also has a young daughter by his marriage, which has also unfortunately recently broken down. His daughter attends a local kindergarten. Her mother is also a Filipino who is a non Cantonese speaker. The parties were never married.

The law

4. The law governing applications concerning a child’s education is the same as that for their longer term care and is governed by the same legislation namely s 3 Guardianship of Minors Ordinance, Cap 13, which states that:-

GENERAL PRINCIPLES

(2) the court -

(i) shall regard the best interests of the minor as the first and paramount consideration and in having such regard shall give due consideration to -

(A) the views of the minor if, having regard to the age and understanding of the minor and to the circumstances of the case, it is practicable to do so; and

(B) any material information including any report of the Director of Social Welfare available to the court at the hearing;

Discussion

The financial position of the parents

5. The Mother is currently earning HK$4,210 per month. She also receives HK$4,000 per month from the...

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