Foreigners Married in Hong Kong divorcing in Taiwan

Hi there,

A slightly complicated legal and multi-part legal question. I’ll try to lay it out simply.

My wife and I were married in Hong Kong in 2018. We are both UK nationals and received our wedding certificate in HK before returning to Taiwan. We did NOT get our marriage certified at TECO. We didn’t have time on that trip and presumed it would be easy enough to pop back to Hong Kong soon enough. Obviously we didn’t know how much the world and Hong Kong would change in the next year or two.

Fast forward to 2022 and we have decided that we would sadly like to get divorced. We’ve both agreed to this and I said I would look into the legality of getting a divorce here.

Here is what I think to be the case, but perhaps somebody can provide some advice or guidance so we avoid unnecessary steps or costs.

  1. To be divorced in Taiwan, we need our marriage to be legally recognized here… Which as far as I know, must be done by TECO in Hong Kong.

  2. TECO in HK says that our marriage can be certified remotely if we use an ‘agent’ and provide them with power of attorney.
    (a) Is an agent just a person we nominate, i.e. a friend or person we trust in HK?
    (b) How do we provide power of attorney to this person? Is there a standard form for this sort of thing or do we need to seek the help of a lawyer or somebody else here in Taiwan.

  3. Once we have the marriage recognized in Taiwan (which obviously feels like a weird step, as we are actually trying to get divorced), what are the steps to getting a divorce here as foreigners? I believe from reading previous threads that it is possible, but might require persistence.

Thanks in advance - I know there are a lot of ifs in these questions. Really I’m looking for any suggestions or experience that might prevent us from doing this as simply and painlessly as possible.

As I said, we are both continuing our lives in Taiwan and although it’s not a happy experience, are trying to do this amicably and without unnecessary burden on each other. If we can avoid having to deal with Hong Kong and getting our marriage more certified, that would be preferable.

don’t you need to divorce were you married? in Hong Kong?

I, unfortunately, know from experience that most western countries have reciprocity agreements whereby you can marry in one country and divorce in another. No need to “register” the marriage in the divorcing country.
Sounds like Taiwan is a bit stricter (or is it politics at play here with HK?)

In any case, if it were me I would get a lawyer. Yeah, it may be costly, but the piece-of-mind should be worth it.

Sorry to hear you are in this situation (I’ve been there)…and good luck.

Write to the Ministry that oversees the Teco offices and ask if the Hong Kong Teco office manager can verify your marriage certificate. I know this sounds crazy but the beauty of it is that the Hong Kong teco office staff are now all living in Taiwan.

I would be unwilling to sign over my power of attorney to someone in my family let alone giving it to someone in another country. There is such a thing as secure document transfer service which would allow you to post your marriage certificate to the teco office in Hong Kong, which they would then have the authority to verify (those little document ID numbers that are then checked with whatever the Hong Kongers call births deaths and marriages), and then return to you. It’s a postal service but costs a bit more. I’m surprised they never gave you that option.

The Hong Kong Teco office is only staffed by Hong Kong locals now. And only a handful of them. In all honesty you should be given permission to have this done through the official Hong Kong Teco employees that are working from, well, Taiwan. That would be the easiest and most logical way to get it done.