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South Korea Divorce & Family Law

International Divorce & Family Law: South Korea

We provide the specialist legal advice that’s needed when UK citizens based in South Korea and Korean people living in the UK are getting divorced. The legal systems in the UK and South Korea are very different. Advice from an international family lawyer is essential to ensure you obtain the right settlement on finances and property and that you reach an appropriate arrangement with your spouse in relation to your children.

We have outlined some aspects of South Korean family law below that may be relevant to your case.


Background To South Korean Divorce

South Korean society remains one based on the idea of patriarchy and traditional family values but it is rapidly changing into a more Westernised nation and the divorce rate is among the highest in the world. Korean judges have traditionally been viewed in a parental-like role in relation to the public and are granted a high degree of discretion in deciding issues around divorce.


Applying For A Divorce Under South Korean Law

Couples who agree to divorce can do so by mutual consent. Otherwise the system is strictly fault-based with one spouse required to establish one of the following grounds:

  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Extreme maltreatment by a spouse or certain relatives
  • Whereabouts of spouse unknown for there years

A spouse can also apply for a divorce on the grounds of some other serious fault-based reason.


Divorce Settlements In South Korea

There are several things to note about the way South Korean judges approach financial settlements and child arrangements:

  • Judges will take into account the age of each spouse, their occupations and what they contributed to the property
  • Historically South Korean judges have attached less value to the work a spouse does to maintain the family home in terms of housework and related matters than to work outside the home
  • Judges may take into account the reason why the couple is divorcing when dividing property
  • The courts have limited scope to divide pensions on divorce
  • There is limited power to award maintenance or alimony. For this reason the financially weaker spouse may obtain a larger lump some than he or she may have otherwise been entitled to
  • In relation to children of the marriage decisions are taken in the best interests of the child, but it’s rare for a father to be given custody of an infant


Advice On South Korean Divorce

We are specialist international divorce and family solicitors. We act for Koreans resident in the UK and spouses of Koreans living here, British citizens in Korea, individuals who married in South Korea and those with other family connections to that country.

Where both countries can legitimately decide on the divorce settlement usually the country that receives a divorce petition first will take precedence over the other. And because of the limitations on maintenance and pension sharing described above and the perception that English courts favour the financially weaker spouse it’s often essential to lodge a petition in the English courts as soon as possible.

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