Hong Kong man worries about marriage fallout as fiancée adds mother’s name to property deed

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12th April 2024 – (Hong Kong) Recently, a discussion thread on an online forum sparked a debate about a friend’s upcoming nuptials. It seems that the friend and his girlfriend each own a property, with plans to reside together in his two-bedroom unit while renting out her own. However, a startling revelation has left him uncertain about how to proceed. He discovered that his girlfriend had secretly added her mother’s name to the deed of her property, triggering concerns that he may be heading towards a potential “divided household.” This revelation has since ignited a fervent discussion among netizens.

A user under the pseudonym “hgffdddss” initiated the conversation on the popular internet forum LIHKG, stating, “Getting married soon, just found out my girlfriend added her mother’s name to the property.” According to the post, the user claimed to be posting on behalf of his friend, who is only a few months away from tying the knot and has completed the traditional Chinese wedding ceremony. The friend owns a two-bedroom unit valued at around HK$7.5 million, while his girlfriend possesses a one-bedroom unit valued at approximately HK$4.5 million. Their plan was to reside in his unit after marriage while the girlfriend’s unit would be rented out. However, the friend stumbled upon the unexpected addition of his girlfriend’s mother’s name to the property deed, stating, “I’m quite certain it wasn’t there before. Initially, I accompanied her during the mortgage application process.” Perplexed by this discovery, he sought advice from netizens on how to navigate this situation and whether he should anticipate his assets being divided.

Some netizens argued that since the property belonged to the girlfriend, adding her mother’s name was within her rights and criticized the friend for prematurely contemplating divorce. However, many expressed concerns over the sudden inclusion of the mother’s name and warned the friend to be cautious about a potential “sham marriage.” They noted that in such circumstances, if a divorce were to occur, the wife would be entitled to 50% of the husband’s property, while the husband would only receive 25% of the wife’s property. They believed that the friend might find himself at a legal disadvantage and advised him to have a frank conversation with his girlfriend and consider postponing the marriage. Furthermore, some netizens suggested that the friend employ a retaliatory measure by adding his parents’ names to the deed of his own property.

While many netizens believed that the friend should delay the marriage to safeguard his interests and avoid potential disputes over shared assets, it is important to note that Hong Kong legislation does not guarantee an equal division of assets in divorce cases. In amicable separations, couples can negotiate and reach mutually agreed-upon terms for asset distribution. However, in cases of contention, the court will consider various factors outlined in the Marriage and Matrimonial Proceedings Ordinance. These factors include the parties’ behaviour, individual financial resources, economic needs, burdens, responsibilities, the standard of living before the breakdown of the marriage, the duration of the marriage, the presence of children, and contributions made to the family. Alternatively, couples can protect their personal wealth by entering into prenuptial or postnuptial agreements that specify the allocation of assets.