(Q&A) I Want to Know about Annulment and Revocation of Marriage under Korean Law

Q) I am seeking a Korean divorce lawyer for my divorce case against my Korean wife.  She lives in Seoul, Korea.  I am American and live in California.  We had a wedding ceremony in California.  We visited South Korea right after the ceremony to file a marriage report with the Korean local government office in Seoul.  However, things didn’t go well.  She left and we started a separation right after the report.  We lived together only for a week.  She had some bipolar issue and that caused lots of stress to our relationship.  I was not 100% sure when filing the marriage report. I am wondering if I can file for an annulment or a divorce in Korea.

A) First of all, assuming your wife has a habitual residence in Korea, the Korean family law shall apply here.

Under Korean law, annulment and revocation of marriage are recognized.  I think, however, annulment and revocation/cancellation of marriage claims are not easy to be established here.

Under Korean law, the annulment requires a lack of genuine intent of marriage.  It seems, however, that you agreed to file the marriage report, which is the strong evidence that you had a genuine intent of marriage.  Of course, this intent is reviewed and decided at the time of the marriage report, not later.

The cancellation of marriage requires a fraud, duress, malignant disease or any other serious problem which makes the marriage unsustainable. It is unclear whether this is the case here.  The degree of your wife’s bipolar symptom should be reviewed and considered.  One lower court case has ruled that a severe bipolar disorder can be a ground for marriage cancellation, though.  Please note that the marriage cancellation claim based on “other serious problem which makes the marriage unsustainable” must be filed within 6 months from the time you became aware of it.  The burden of proof is on the party who asserts that.

Alternatively, you can file for divorce.  Based on your explanation, I think you can get a divorce decree from the Korean court.  The degree of legal standard is lower than that of divorce annulment/cancellation claims.  Anything that makes the party feel the marriage is unsustainable can be a divorce ground.  Also, the fact that you both lived only 1 week together and have been separated since then will be a strong evidence which shows the marriage has been broken down.

That said, you may choose to file for divorce in Korea.  Strategically you may elect the divorce cancellation claim as the 1st ground and the divorce as the 2nd ground.

It usually takes 6 to 9 months to get the ruling from the Korean court.

We recommend you to check our article titled “Getting Divorced in Korea As Foreigners: the Ultimate Guide

Regarding how fast a divorce can be made in Korea, please find this article.

When you hire our office, you don’t have to attend the hearings.  We will take the proceedings on your behalf.

You can find more articles about Korean divorce law and cases here.

If you have any questions regarding this article or 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 promptly.

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