South Korean husband not allowed to divorce

A husband in South Korea has been refused a divorce by their Supreme Court despite separating from his wife 15 years ago.

Under Korean law, limited provision can be made for a wife and children in terms of maintenance, so the court decided that to allow the divorce would leave the wife and children in financial difficulties.

It also took a very dim view of the husband’s adultery and having a child with a woman to whom he was not married. It was only in February this year that adultery was decriminalised.

Such a refusal just wouldn’t happen in the UK. In practice it is possible for any spouse to have their divorce solicitor start divorce proceedings on the basis of unreasonable behaviour, unless they are married to a saint. But even then, their perfection could be cited as a behaviour that the petitioner found unreasonable, as the test is of course a subjective one.

We do have section 5 of the Matrimonial Causes Act which allows a Court to refuse a divorce if it would cause grave hardship. But, for this to be argued the divorce has to be based on 5 years separation, one of the two more rarely used facts. And even if this fact was cited, since the introduction of pension sharing in 2000, it is difficult to think of a circumstance in which grave hardship would be caused.

A cheating husband from South Korea who separated from his wife 15 years ago has been refused a divorce by the country’s Supreme Court.

The court deemed that allowing the divorce would leave his wife and three children without legal protection for financial support.

Known by the surname Baek, the man filed for a divorce from his wife in 2011. The couple separated in 2000 and Mr Baek, 68, had since been living with another woman and had another child.