[Q&A] My Spouse Won’t Sign the Divorce Agreement. How Can I Get the Divorce Finalized in Korea?

Q) I’m a U.S. citizen married to a Korean woman having one child.  Currently, we live apart and our child’s living time is split between us. I wouldn’t mind this situation if I knew she could be trusted to care for him safely and properly. But she can’t do this. I’m incredibly worried about his present safety and his emotional development. We have the papers but she won’t sign them, she uses our marital situation to manipulate me. Is there any way I can file for divorce without her consent? If so, where can I do this? Also, what would I need to do to obtain sole parental authority after the divorce?

A) If she keeps refusing to sign the divorce agreement, you have no choice but to file a divorce lawsuit with a Korean court that has jurisdiction over the residence where she resides in order for the divorce to be finalized in Korea. Of course, mutual consent is not required in case you file a divorce lawsuit. You, however, have to prove your marriage is unsustainable due to the reasons not solely attributable to you. That is because in this case the Korean divorce law shall apply and the Korean divorce law does not acknowledge no-fault divorce. The judge will rule on the issue of who is going to be the sole custodian in the process of a divorce trial. Therefore you should collect and prepare sufficient evidence which shows her unfit to raise your son.

Our office has strong expertise in representing and advising foreign clients in their divorces in Korea. If you need our legal service, please contact our attorney by clicking here. Our fully qualified Korean lawyers, not a U.S. lawyer residing in Korea, will support you.

Also, you can find a stack of legal information and articles on Korean divorce law, written by a Korean qualified lawyer, by clicking here.

© 2010 Chung & Partners, a Korean Full Service Law Firm.  All rights reserved.

Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein, which may or may not reflect the most current legal development, may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations. 


  1. Hi, I am engaged to a Korean man who just decided to tell me that he is still legally married. He has been separated for 4 years but claims he filled for divorce a few times and his wife refused to sign. He said we had filed a lawsuit against her and it should be granted in a month. What documents do I need to see to know he is now being honest?

    1. Hi, you can ask him to provide the docket number with which you can search and look into the progress of the suit if it was really filed with the Korean family court.

  2. hello there !!!I am from the phillipines. I have a Korean partner and we hav a 1 child. at first he told me that he is on process of divorce in korea.at the beggining we are happy and contented because he supporting us financially and if he stay here in the philippines he is staying with me and my child but suddenlly change evrything while my son growing up im wondering why he cannot bring us in korea and meet his relatives until i found out that his teeling me a liar promise.its been 4 years ago but until now his not yet divorced .but he keep on teeling me that he can prove it to me showing some documents.is it possible that i can check his marital status online?is there a site in korea where i can check if his really already a single? becuase im tired enough to wait on his liar promises. if his telling me lies then i will seperate with him and stand alone for my child.also can i get a financiial support from him? even my son have no korean passport?pls help me on this thank you so much

    1. Hello
      Thanks for contacting our office. We sent our answer and opinion to your email account.
      Best regards

  3. Hello I’m a Filipino citizen, married to a korean for more than 5 years. We have 2 children and I am now pregnant to our 3rd child. I have a question. Last 2 days my husband told me that he will file a divorce before he will send me back to Philippines with my 2 children before I give birth to our 3rd child. I was so shocked when I heard it. He has no valid reasons for the divorce. He just want it because he said he is just so tired of us. He also said that he want to marry a korean woman after our divorce. He said, he will give to me the custody of our children but he will not support us financially from the day we arrive in my country and he will not stand as a father of our 3rd child. I did not agree with him because how can I start my new life with my children without money. I don’t know what to do. We are not in good relationship now, he is not treating us well. My husband is a drunkard, many times that he is not sleeping in our house and he is also gambling online.
    Is it possible that the court will approve the divorce file without valid reason?
    thank you…

    1. The Korean law and courts require a just cause for divorce and that must be argued and proved by the plaintiff. Thus, the answer is no, based on the facts you provided.

  4. I am a US army, was married in Korea. Had a child. Before I and my ex-wife got divorced, she took our child back to her country, the Philippines. She came back alone. I got upset and I filed a divorce with her. Can I sue her for kidnapping our child?

  5. Dear Sir/Madam
    I have a question and I really desperately need an answer if you reply to my email will be very thankful to you.
    in 2007 I married to a Korean woman in UK the life was very good we were both very happy and my wife parent was also here in the UK and we had 2 beautiful children one boy and one girl. In 2013 our life suddenly turned upside down when I returned from work at the evening……. and she abandoned children with her friend and disappeared with everything we got….. then I find out she is in South Korea ….. its too long to explain all. I want to go to my question.
    Can I apply for Korean residency for the children?
    Thank you very much.

  6. Hello I am korean citizenship n I have my boyfren he is illegal since 1 years ago he is coming I korea e7 visa ccan he got visa after married with me???

  7. Hi, i am s**** but im a foreigner married to korean for almost 10 years we have 2 kids. Since i came korea my husband didnt work or he dont have regular work. Im working here since my first baby. The first time i came here my husband is always drinking out with friends. When u came home wee fight and he hit me. He always make a troubles. He went to jail since our first baby first cuz he made troubles at noraebang hes drunk. So i start worked that time cuz i need to buy milk for my baby. He came out from jail after 3 years. But after a few months he did again. I been patience for that time cuz i want to survived our marriages. But he didnt changes didnt work.every time we fight or arguements he hits me. So i decided to move. Now we lived separate house but same town almost 2 years now. during the weeks my kids with me at weekend kids at their dad. He had a motorcycle accident last year still in treatment. My question is i want a divorce but he dont to sign on divorce. He said do whatever you want. How can i get a divorce im not really good in korean i can read but i cant write korean. And my second question if i move to my country for few months let say 3 to 6months or let say running away it is true our marriages will be automatically divorce some people saying that. And i need to file in the court after that ? If ill file a divorce by myself cuz he dont want to sign it. What should i do and how long it will takes if i file and i have to go court. I tried to talk to him for divorce but he wont sign it. If we had a divorce i can get any benefits and my kids from the government cuz my husband and family they dont have any properties just house. Anyway im korean citizen. Pls. Help me what should i do. Thanks lot.

  8. Q. I am a foreigner married with a Korean wife for the past 3 years or so. We had 2 babies. I was alcohol and smoke free person and My wife promised to quit her alcohol consumption after the first baby but she didn’t and she would hide and drink occasionally. Our new baby is only 6 months old, I found that after she is drunk, she breast feed the baby. I tried to stop her but instead was reprimanded and attacked by her and in the end, we had a fight and she fall asleep. Next day, she woke up and told me that she forgot everything what has happened.

    I was thinking to file for a divorce with her but was worried that if the babies custody are fallen into her hands, the same issue might happen again. I wonder how can I proceed with all these procedures to secure my babies are well taken care of and I can get my divorce done as soon as possible.

    In Korea, I do not have any assets and was out of work for the past 2 years and 6 months. Since I came from the US and been having issue finding a job here in korea especially I can’t speak Korean at all.

    1. The email was returned. Anyhow, if the divorce ruling from a Korean family court says your husband is responsible for the marriage breakdown, you can stay in Korea even after your current visa expires and may be eligible for the Korean citizenship as well.

      1. Good evening i was came from philippines i was married to korean man and running away from him when i wanna get back to him he said he was divorce me how can i get my divorce paper..i wanna get it first before i get back to my country..

        1. You can get a copy of your husband’s marriage certificate from a ward office whereby you can check the marriage/divorce status.

  9. Hi..Good day..My name is Dianne and my husband want a divorced..We dont have kids.Just wondering if I can stay in korea to work and continued renewing my visa?..Actually we did applied for korean citizenship last year but the immigration says I have to wait for 2 years because we dont have a child..Please help me..What should I do?..thank you so much..

      1. Hi,Im Arlyn..I just read the case of Ms.Dianne and we had the same situation.
        can you send me the answer also?thank you so much

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