Legal update: Parenting co-ordination now in Hong Kong01Mar2017
With divorce rates continuing to rise globally and the increasing incidence of second and third marriages failing, families may experience breakdown and the resulting conflict more than ever before. Find out how legal practices have responded to this trend.
In Hong Kong the rate of divorce has almost tripled since 1991 with a rate of more than 3.1 divorces per 1,000 population. In response to this trend, professionals continue to develop alternative methods to assist families in resolving their disputes out of court. This can reduce the cost and stress of proceedings.
A key factor in the ongoing development of such methods is the overriding concern for the happiness of children of families at all junctures of parental separation; these processes strive to avoid or minimise the inevitable conflict that follows. Some parents can become embroiled in a cycle of conflict to such an extent that issues such as minor changes to regular access, holiday access and a litany of the daily decisions that parents need to make on an ongoing basis can no longer be resolved between them. This sees the same parties attending courts on a regular basis, sometimes, for years.
The services available to assist families in conflict continue to develop allowing professionals to advise on and provide a multi-disciplinary approach to support parents.
One such service is Parenting Co-ordination. The process originates from the United States and involves the consensual appointment (by court order) of a third party, impartial, trained parenting co-ordinator whose purpose is to assist parents to implement court orders made on children’s arrangements and to resolve issues that arise from it. In the event of a stalemate on disputed issues, a parenting co-ordinator is authorised to made simple decisions on matters within a specific agreed remit formerly agreed between the parties. The parties are then bound to follow those decisions.
How does Parenting Co-ordination work?
The process does not oust the jurisdiction of the courts and nor is it confidential. Decisions made by parenting co-ordinators may not be final. Dissatisfied parents may apply to the Judge charged with the underlying court proceedings and the decision may be reviewed after evidence has been filed and parties cross-examined.
Parenting co-ordination is a single component of a wide range of services available to families and is rarely employed in isolation. A good parenting co-ordinator can assist parties to resolve daily issues regarding their children without resorting to lawyers letters or to the court. It can also have a transformative role and help the parents learn how to communicate better together and ultimately to resolve issues between them by being aware of and avoiding further conflict. This process and strategy is in line with the approach at Tanner De Witt to reduce the impact on all concerned of the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next chapter of life.
The above is not intended to be relied on as legal advice and specific legal advice should be sought at all times in relation to the above.
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Disclaimer: This publication is general in nature and is not intended to constitute legal advice. You should seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters dealt with in this publication.