[Q&A] Can I Enforce My Washington State Child Support Ruling in Korea?

(Question) I have a question regarding my current situation with my ex-husband. He is a Korean national and working there in South Korea.  I lived there until 2014 when I came back to Washington and filed a divorce complaint here. Since then he has refused to speak with me.  This year my US lawyer duly served him with the paper but he just kept ignoring it.  At any rate, I got a divorce decree and child support ruling for my baby this April.  Now I am wondering how I can enforce my US ruling in Korea, knowing that he is living a  luxurious life and feels that he can just ignore his child and the responsibilities that come with it.

(Answer) I have to say that there is something unclear in this case.  If the court proceedings in Washington(WA) court have been duly made, i.e. (i) the WA court had proper jurisdiction and (ii) he was duly served, you can apply for its execution in Korea. Otherwise, you may initiate the whole process de nuvo in Korea.  The second threshold seems to have been met here. Thus, the real issue here rather is the first one.

Please note that the jurisdiction must be acknowledged in the view of Korean law, not the WA law. Thus, even though the WA ruling says the WA court has proper jurisdiction, the Korean court will not follow it per se. It will review the jurisdiction issue based on the law and principles of Korea. That is because what matters here is whether the execution of foreign judgment could be tolerated within Korea and in terms of Korean law.

In this issue of jurisdiction, Korean law basically requires the defendant to have a residence in the venue in order to establish jurisdiction, i.e. the defendant must have a residence in WA in order for the WA court can exercise the jurisdiction. This seems unclear to me.  If any of WA court documents can show he lived or stayed for a considerable time in WA or you can show that your divorce grounds were substantially related to WA, it would be much advantageous to you.

When you apply for the execution of WA ruling, the Korean court will review these thresholds and if it finds something is missing, the application will be denied. Alternatively, you may initiate the whole process (child support suit) in Korean court de nuvo.

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  1. In korea, when a foreigner who is married to a korean lady inherits a property after marriage , is it considered conjugal? If they divorce, can the lady go after the man’s inheritanxe?

  2. My son and I (U.S. Citizens) live in the U.S. His father has lived in Korea and is a citizen there he lives a good life with a job he spends money everywhere with his girlfriend. He doesn’t ever call my son and doesn’t pay child support. How can I reach our to a family lawyer in Korea that can handle this? His father flies to the U.S. Once a year to renew a visa or green card or something. Is there something I can do? He pays a little bit of money a month but nothing close to what a legitimate child support would be. Is there a way to get back pay and current child support out of him?

  3. I had similar case ,regarding Child Support…………….
    Chung & Partners helped me alot in Korea—we won the case!
    I recommended him ,as a good lawyer!!

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