On December 13, 2012, South Korea acceded to the Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“Hague Child Abduction Convention”), whereby South Korea became the 89th contracting nation to the convention.
Concluded in October 1980, the Hague Child Abduction Convention is a multilateral treaty aiming at prompt return of wrongfully removed or retained child from one contracting nation to another. Under the Convention, any person or institution claiming that a child has been removed or retained in breach of custody rights may apply to any other contracting nation for assistance in securing the return of the child.
As with the Convention entering into force on March 1, 2013, South Korea enacted a subsequent domestic legislation concerning the implementation of the Convention. Under the new legislation, the foreign spouse who is the citizen of the contracting nation of the Convention can make application to the Minister of Justice of South Korea for the assistance of return of child wrongfully abducted to South Korea. The case asserting the return of the child pursuant to the Convention is under the exclusive jurisdiction of Seoul Family Court. The court may issue a preliminary injunction to maintain the status quo. Also the court may dismiss the application for the return of the child when, among others, it has passed 1 or more years since the abduction and the child has already adjusted herself into the current environment. The person who does not honor the court’s decision of child return is subject to the fines not exceeding 10,000,000KRW and/or 30-day or less detention.
South Korea made a reservation and declared that it shall not be bound to assume any costs resulting from the participation of legal counsel or advisers or from court proceedings, except insofar as those costs may be covered by its Legal Aid Act.
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