Recently we got a question about whether the Korean court permits a divorce filing even when both parties are foreign nationals. The questioner was in a situation where she lived in Korea but the spouse did not. Here is a short and general answer.
In principle, the Korean court accepts international divorce filing only when the defendant has a residence in Korea, even though there could be some excepts to this rule of thumb. The Supreme Court of South Korea, however, held that as an exception to this general rule the court should accept the divorce filing when (i) the plaintiff fails to locate the defendant or (ii) the defendant who has no residence in Korea answers the lawsuit filed in a Korean court.
Thus, if you do not know where the spouse currently lives but still need to get divorced, you can file a divorce lawsuit to a Korean family court. This is quite helpful to the foreign people who had been married to Korean persons but moved back to their home countries with the marriage not working well. Or a foreign person living in Korea whose spouse, who is also a foreigner, left Korea permanently can benefit from this judicial policy of Korean family court. In this regard, our office had represented a Canadian male and successfully got a divorce decree from
the Korean court against a Cote d’Ivoire wife who left South Korea permanently, arguing the foregoing Supreme Court’s reasoning should apply.
By the way, some people further asked us whether a Korean family court would accept a divorce filing even when the marriage itself did take place in other countries. The answer is yes. It does not matter where your marriage was legally made. When you apply for a divorce in Korea, the foresaid legal standard does apply.
If you have any questions about divorcing in Korea or any other family law-related issues, please visit our Legal Consultation center or send your inquiry email by clicking here. Our Korean licensed divorce lawyers, not a U.S. lawyer residing in Korea, will answer your inquiry.
Also, you can find a stack of legal information and articles on Korean divorce law, written by a Korean qualified lawyer, by clicking here.
© Wonil Chung. All rights reserved.