SEOUL, Sept. 15 (UPI) — South Korea’s Supreme Court ruled that a cheating spouse is not allowed to file for divorce – especially if the divorce would lead to economic setbacks for families with children.
Tuesday’s ruling addressed a case that was brought to a lower court in 2011, involving a middle-age couple with three children, South Korean news site Financial News reported.
The husband, identified only by his surname Baek, had married the woman, identified by her surname Kim, in 1976 and raised three children. South Korean newspaper Kyunghyang Shinmun reported marital troubles began when Baek met a woman in 1996 who became his mistress – the two eventually had a child out of wedlock in 1998. Kim allegedly caused a scene at her husband’s office after finding out about his extramarital activities, and Baek, a government employee, resigned and left Kim in 2000, in order to live with his paramour, according to court records.
The court ruled in a 7–6 decision that the defendant was not eligible for divorce under South Korean law, which does not allow for no-fault divorces. A no-fault divorce would allow Baek to file for termination of marriage without a settlement. Kim has not agreed to the divorce, and court records showed that she wanted him to resume his family life.
“In other countries that allow no-fault divorce, in court only the divorce is recognized and divorce by settlement is not recognized,” the Supreme Court said in its ruling, adding that divorce by settlement in South Korea is the most common form of divorce.
The verdict stated Baek has an option to file for divorce by settlement, and that the no-fault divorce option that the defendant seeks would lead to economic hardships for the plaintiff and children – in the absence of a “safety net” in South Korea. The judges who ruled in favor of Kim said gender equality in the country is not sufficient to guarantee the maintenance of current living standards for the mother of three.
“We cannot ignore the reality in [South Korean] society,” one judge said.