SEOUL, June 18 (Korea Bizwire) – As the number of marriages via international marriage brokers increases, lawsuits asking courts to annul marital statuses over inheritance disputes are also increasing. Of particular note, when foreign brides take a long time to come to Korea or get married to Korean men to acquire Korean nationality, they are easily engaged in legal disputes.
According to the Seoul Family Court on June 17, the number of legal disputes seeking the annulment of the marital status of foreign brides increased to more than 400 cases last year, in accordance with the increasing number of international marriages. Among the lawsuits, at least 40 cases were raised by children of deceased parents over legacy issues.
For example, a Korean man (56) met a Chinese woman (36) via an international marriage broker and married her in 2011. The Chinese woman visited Korea only two times, including once for her marriage registration, and went back to China. Six months after the marriage, the Korean man passed away, and his Chinese bride became a legal heir.
The Korean man had a child with his ex-wife, and the ex-wife filed a lawsuit requesting the annulment of his second marriage. According to Korean civil law, the inheritance rate of a spouse and a child is 1.5 to 1. The court dismissed the ex-wife’s case, saying, “It is hard to decide that the deceased and the defendant had no mutual agreement on their marriage and evidence is lacking.”
However, in some cases, when foreign spouses request the annulment of their marriage in advance or are out of contact after the marriage is registered, the court accepts such requests.
In the case of a Vietnamese woman who refused to come to Korea after her marriage, the court sided with the bereaved family of the man who suddenly became the victim of a traffic accident.
An official at the Seoul Family Court said, “Marriage annulment is only accepted when the legal requirements are fully met. Legal status must be established to avoid inheritance disputes once the marital relationship is over.”
By M. H. Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)