Q) I’m an American and my wife is Korean. She is living in Korea and I have returned to the USA. We have agreed to divorce. However, I can’t go back to Korea just to sign the papers. Is it possible to have her do it? Or have her email me the divorce agreement for me to sign and return to her? I just want to know how to divorce when the spouse doesn’t live in Korea.
Spouses Can Live in Different Country to File for Divorce in Korea
In general, the Korean court requires at least one spouse to reside in Korea in order to process the divorce filing. Thus, the fact that one spouse resides in a foreign country doesn’t bar a spouse living in Korea to file for divorce. The issue, however, lies in a procedural matter.
When you divorce under Korean law, there are subsequent legal matters of property division and consolation money.
A property division is a legal right of any spouse who is divorced under Korean law. Some people think a spouse at fault is not awarded this right, but that is not true. There was a court case where even a spouse who cheated on the wife can claim for property division.
The subject of division is any and every marital asset acquired and/or maintained during the marriage. The debts are also divided.
When dividing the marital asset, the Korean court will decide and apply the contributor share of each party in the course of acquiring and maintaining the marital assets regardless of whose name is on it. The most common ratio is 50:50. But when the time of marriage is very short and the value of the assets is high, the Korean court has a tendency to limit the wife’s share at a very low level.
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. (more…)