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.
On May 30, 2014, the Seoul Family Court handed down a ground-breaking decision which recognized the paternity between a Korean male and his children born out of lawful wedlock in the Philippines. The decision marked the first time ever that a Korean Family Court adjudicated on the parentage of so-called “Kopino”, the term for those children born between a Filipina mother and a Korean father out of marriage.
The sociocultural issue surrounding the Kopino has been the criticism that the Korean fathers have abandoned Kopinos by leaving Philippines and providing no supports. In this court case, the story was quite typical. The Korean father met a Philippine woman back in 1997, when he was running a toy manufacturing business in Philippines. In 1998 and 2000, they had 2 children. But he couldn’t marry her, because he was already married to another woman in South Korea. On April 14, 2004, he suddenly left Philippines alone and never contacted his children again. He had never paid any support for his children.
In December 2012, frustrated by the irresponsibility of the Korean father, the children’s mother in Philippines had moved to bring a legal action in Seoul Family Court against the Korean father to establish the paternity of her children. After 15-month litigation, the DNA test confirmed the blood ties between (more…)