Esther Erlings, Lecturer in Law, Flinders University, Australia
Keywords: boarding school - high-conflict divorce - relocation - best interests of the child
As a former British colony, the option of a boarding school education remains an important part of Hong Kong’s educational framework. Whilst historically intended to provide offspring with ‘a proper British education’, reasons for sending children to boarding school are diversifying. This article presents a thematic analysis of reported cases in the Hong Kong family jurisdiction referencing boarding school or overseas education, aimed at uncovering motivations for sending children to boarding school. The analysis reveals two emerging themes in boarding school applications that are of relevance beyond the Hong Kong jurisdiction: first, the use of boarding school as a means to lift a child out of a high-conflict divorce environment, and, secondly, boarding proposals as a form of ‘strategic diversion’, where one parent seeks to relocate with the child and the other parent suggests boarding as a compromise. The article discusses the analysis’ findings, including from the perspective of the best interests of the child, which may be served by a child’s physical removal from entrenched parental conflict, but perhaps not by becoming a compromise-boarder.
This article has been accepted for publication in Child and Family Law Quarterly in Issue 1, Vol 34, Year 2022.