Korean Family Court Granted Family Name Changing into Foreign Step-Father’s Family Name

According to the Korean Civil Act, a child shall succeed his or her mother’s family name, if the father is a foreigner.  By the way, the newly amended Korean Civil Act, which has become effective from January 1, 2008, allows changing family name into another one.  Article 781 (6) of the Act provides as follows:

Where there exists a need to alter the family name of a child for the welfare of the child, it may be changed with the approval thereof which the court grants upon a request of the father or mother or the child itself: Provided, That if the child is a minor and its agent by law may not make such a request, the request may be made by the relative provided for in article 777 or a public prosecutor.

Since the enforcement of the new Civil Act, I’m curious about whether Koren Court would permit the changing Korean family name into foreign family name such as “Smith” or “Brown” and so on.  This is an important legal issue considering many Korean kids are being adopted to foreign parents and many Korean females are being remarried to foreign males with her Korean child.

Finally, Seoul Family Court answered this question.  The court announced today that it had granted a Korean mother’s request to change her daughter’s family name from that of Korean biological father to her newly wedded Filipino husband’s family name.  It was reported that the court took great pains to draw this decision.  However, the court can not disregard the reality where multicultural family has increased due to international marriage in Korea and surely the judge reflected this trend onto its decision.

Without a doubt, this is a great news for many multicultural families out there.  I think other Korean child placed in a similar situation will be able to get the same benefits from the above case too.

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© 2008 Wonil Chung, a Korean Lawyer/Chung & Partners, a Korean Law Firm.  All rights reserved.

1 Comment

  1. When a couple marry, a Korean woman and Western man, the names remain separate. However, when the baby is born, which surname will the baby have?

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