Events & Programmes

Legal Seminar of Parental Responsibility Model

The concept of "parental responsibility" focuses on the sustainable responsibilities divorced parents have for raising their children, but there are not enough support policies and gender perspectives. Although we agree in principle, in light of the uniqueness and complexity of divorced families, we suggest that the government should enhance the existing execution mechanism of alimony, set up one-stop divorce support comprehensive services, to provide prompt and effective assistance to divorced families.

 

On 27th January 2018, we have co-organized the Legal Seminar of Parental Responsibility Model with the Centre for Social Policy Studies of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Over 50 members of the public attended. We have invited scholars from the social work department, Legco councillors, people from the legal and social welfare sectors, as well as our frontline staff to discuss the legislation preparation and service supports for the proposed legislation. We have also invited representatives from the Labor and Social Welfare Departments and the Social Welfare Bureau to respond.

 

Ms Kwok Yuen Shan, the guest speaker and lawyer, was worried about the legislation and thought that the existing law did not define domestic violence clearly. Thus, it would be difficult to find proofs for mental abuse cases. The proposed legislation suggested putting the benefits of the children first, but it inclines to the government when it comes to enforcement. The suggested arrangement might be misused by parents. Councilor Ms Eunice Yeung advocated providing enough resources for services related to divorced families and educated the public and the legal sector to understand the model. Professor Mr Ng Kwok Tung thought that to solve the common problem of joint fostering rights, the governments should provide one-stop services before and after divorce, such as setting up a mechanism for resolving divorced parents' conflicts and forming peer support group etc. Councilor Mr Cheung Chiu Hung pointed out that it was very difficult for women to recover alimony. He supported setting up the Alimony Bureau to facilitate the recovery. As for divorced families, he thought that service support was more important than joint fostering.

 

In the open discussion session, many women and frontline social workers have used real cases to share the gender inequality, mental and economic stress faced by women in the divorce progress. They worried that implementing the parental responsibility model when there were not enough support services such as parental education and training, family dispute mediation, and visitor centres, would only make the situation of women more dangerous. The attendees were concerned that the government has devoted more resources on the special case services of divorced families and hoped the government can review the existing subsidy and allowance model.