M v L

CourtFamily Court (Hong Kong)
Judgment Date22 May 2019
Neutral Citation[2019] HKFC 133
Judgement NumberFCMC5284/2018
SubjectMatrimonial Causes
FCMC14921/2017 M v. L

FCMC 14921 of 2017

Consolidated with FCMC 943/2016 and FCMC 5284/2018

[2019] HKFC 133

IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE

HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION

MATRIMONIAL CAUSES

NUMBER 14921 of 2017

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BETWEEN
M Petitioner

and

L Respondent
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(By Order of Deputy District Judge David Cheung dated 23 October 2017 action FCMC 943/2016 was consolidated with FCMC 14921/2017)
(By Order of Deputy District Judge David Cheung dated 19 June 2018 action FCMC 5284/2018 was consolidated with FCMC 14921/2017)

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Coram: Deputy District Judge M. Lam in Court
Date of Hearing: 13 and 14 March 2019
Date of Witten Closing Submissions of the Petitioner: 26 March 2019
Date of Witten Closing Submissions of the Respondent: 21 March and 1 April 2019
Date of Handing Down Judgment: 22 May 2019

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JUDGMENT
(Defended Petition and Cross-petition)

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Introduction

1. This is a defended divorce. Both parties recognize that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. The wife seeks a decree based on two-year separation whereas the husband seeks a decree based on adultery.

The actions and pleadings

2. The parties married on 30 December 2005. No child was born to the husband during the marriage. They are domiciled in Hong Kong. Both of them are engineers.

3. The wife initially petitioned for divorce on the basis of 2-year separation since April 2013 (the “First Petition”) under action FCMC942/2016 on 23 January 2016 (the “First Action”). The husband defended the petition by filing an answer on 25 February 2016 (the “First Answer”). He pleaded that up to 8 September 2015 the couple were still living together in Hong Kong, that the wife moved out of the matrimonial home on 9 September 2015 (the “Departure Date”) and from then onward, they had lived separately. He prayed for the petition be dismissed with costs to him.

4. On 23 October 2017, the learned Deputy District Judge David Cheung gave an order for further conduct of the First Action including, inter alia, : -

(a) leave to the wife to file a new petition for divorce on the ground of two-year separation since 10 September 2015 (the “Alleged Date”);

(b) the new action be consolidated with the First Action;

(c) the First Action be stayed from the date of filing of the new petition for divorce by the wife; and when the court pronounces decree nisi in the new action, the First Action be dismissed;

(d) leave to the husband to withdraw the First Answer and to file a fresh Form 4 within 14 days after service of the new petition;

(e) There be no order as to cost of the First Action.

(the “First Consolidation Order”)

5. On 15 November 2017, the wife issued a new divorce petition (the “Wife’s Petition”) based on two-year separation “since at least from the Alleged Date” under action FCMC14921/2017 (the “Wife’s Action”). The husband defended the petition by filing an answer on 21 December 2017 (the “Husband’s Answer”). He denied separation for lack of agreed or deed of separation (the “Agreement Argument”). He further prayed for the Wife’s Petition be dismissed due to a false statement contained therein, namely the wife’s statement that she resided in a specified flat on a specified floor in Heng Fa Chuen (the “Said Address”) (the “Address Argument”).

6. The parties filed and served witness statements shortly afterwards. The second pre-trial review was fixed to 19 June 2018 to allow another round of exchange of witness statements.

7. On 4 May 2018, the husband issued a divorce petition based on adultery (the “Husband’s Petition”) under action FCMC5284/2018 (the “Husband’s Action”). No particulars of adultery were provided. The wife resisted the petition. She urged for dissolution of the marriage solely on two-year separation.

8. By Order of Deputy District Judge David Cheung dated 19 June 2018, the Wife’s Action and the Husband’s Action were consolidated as one action with the Husband’s Petition be treated as the Cross-Petition.

9. Subsequently, the husband was allowed not to name the person alleged to have committed adultery with the wife in this action.

10. On the first day of trial, by consent of the parties, leave was granted to the husband to amend the Husband’s Petition by giving particulars of the adultery, namely, the birth registration of a girl with the date of birth on X September 2017, her mother being the wife and the father not the husband, with cost of and occasioned by the amendments be paid by the husband to the wife, to be taxed if not agreed. The wife then filed consequential amended answer and witness statement.

11. The trial proceeded on the same day as scheduled. In the middle of the trial, the husband produced further document.

The issues in dispute

12. Chronologically, the issues to be determined are: -

(a) whether a decree based on two-year separation as prayed in the Wife’s Petition should be granted,

(b) If the answer to (a) is positive, whether the Court should further make inquiries into the husband’s allegation of adultery under the Husband’s Petition.

(c) If the answer to (b) is positive, whether a decree based on adultery should be granted.

The legal principles

13. The sole...

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