We have received many inquiries regarding the child support obligation and custody/visitation rights under Korean law. Some cases are related to the divorcing parties and some to the unmarried couples who had babies during the relationship.
In case of unmarried couples, the birth father has no parental rights and obligations until his paternity is established in Korea. That can be done in 2 ways. One is to report himself as the father with the Korean local government and the other one is filing a paternity suit.
When the parental relationship is established, the parties need to agree on the matters of child custody, visitation and child support. The same goes for the couple divorcing in South Korea. When it is hard to reach an agreement, the matters will be heard and decided by the judge per the party’s filing a suit with the family court.
The judge considers and reviews various facts in making the decision of child custody. The rule of thumb is the best interest of the child. In Korea, it is very hard for the father to be awarded the custody when the child is very young. The mother’s consent or history of mother’s child abuse, abandonment, mental illness are required for the father to have the child custody.
As to the child support amount, there is an internal rule of the Korean Family Court when the amount is calculated. For example, when the child is under the age of 2, the monthly cost ranges from 500USD to 1600USD depending on the total incomes of both parties. Then the court applies a distributed share to the monthly cost. The most common share is 50:50, which means the child support amount usually ranges from 250USD to 800USD. But the judge can adjust the amount a little bit by her own discretion.
As to the child visitation, the most common visitation schedule is 2 weekends per month and 3 or 4 days for each of summer and winter vacation.
All these child custody related issues can be negotiated and settled between the parties, too. In such a case, it is always good and safe to contact a Korean qualified attorney before making any decision. He can not only provide you with the relevant legal information and opinion but also guide you on how to formalize the parties’ agreement.
If you have any questions regarding this article or you are in a similar case/situation, please visit our Legal Consultation center or send your inquiry email by clicking here. Our Korean qualified lawyer will answer your inquiry.
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