Question) I am a US citizen and have been living with my Korean boy friend for about 3 years in South Korea. We loved each other and agreed to marry, but we were so busy to have the legal process timely done and most importantly we found no need to do that. We’ve just thought each other as husband and wife and so do our friends and families. While living together, he ran an Internet business and made a quite large profits from there. I took care of every housework and sometimes I helped his business work, too. But, recently I found he had cheated on me. I was so shocked and got separated from him. My concern is whether I have any right to the assets accumulated during our cohabitation, like a property division right between divorcing couple.
Answer) Under Korean law, in order to establish the marital relationship, the parties must report their marriage to the government. Just having a wedding ceremony is not enough. If the parties live together considering themselves each other’s spouse without reporting the marriage, it is called a de facto marriage. A de facto marriage is not a legal marriage. Thus it is not entitled to the same level of legal protection as the legal marriage. But, when it comes to the resolution of the de facto marriage relationship, the Korean law applies almost identical protection to the parties.
First, the Korean law grants the right of property division to each party of the de facto marriage. Each party is entitled to the share of the assets acquired during the relationship pursuant to his or her contribution. Even if the party is solely responsible for the relationship breakdown, the person is still entitled to. Second, a party can seek a consolation money against the other party, if the other party is solely responsible for the relationship breakdown. The amount the party can seek is decided by various (more…)