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.
Establishment of Paternity under Korean Law
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.
Determination of Child Care Issues
When the parental relationship is established, the unmarried couple needs to agree on child care issues such as 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 Korean family court.
Recently I got a question from a U.S. citizen living in the states. He has a Korean wife and a son. He’s currently living separately from the wife and son in Korea. The wife refuses his contact with the kid. He tries to get the custody but is not sure about filing a divorce law suit right away.
A child custody has two meanings in Korea. One is a right to make decisions for the child (so-called parental authority) and the other is right to foster the child.
Getting divorced is not necessarily required to have the “right to foster” under Korean law. He can request the Korean Family Court to designate him as the sole child fosterer, maintaining his marriage. The court will consider certain factors such as child’s age, past and current life style, occupation and standard of living of both parties and so on in deciding who is going to be a right fosterer in terms of the child’s welfare.
Regarding the expense of bringing up a child, if he is designated as a sole fosterer, the wife shall pay the certain proportion of total expenses of bringing up a child.
In a case where he fails to be designated as a sole fosterer by the court, he shall be entitled to have a visitation right according to Korean law. He can request the court to prevent his wife from interrupting his regular visitation to his (more…)