In 1991, South Korea ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which stipulates that “State parties shall ensure a child such protection and care as it is necessary for his or her well-being … and shall take all appropriate legislative and administrative measures.” It also mentions that a child has “the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.”
South Korean parents also have a legal responsibility to provide support under South Korea’s Act on Enforcing and Supporting Child Support Payment, regardless of the marriage status. So frankly speaking, you are legally obligated to support your child financially, even if the child is a child out of wedlock. Child support may be requested to be resolved by a parent with physical custody if an agreement on child support has not been made or cannot be made (Korean Civil Act 837. 4).
Child support claims can be made before a child turns 20 years old, and claims for past expenses are also allowed. So, the parent without physical custody maybe obligated to pay a certain amount as past child support expenses at once. When a parent does not follow an order to pay child support, the other parent may request the family court for the enforcement of the order, a violation of which may lead to penalties and/or a confinement for contempt of court. A party receiving child support may request the court to withhold the other’s property or income for child support.
According to Article 2 of South Korea’s Nationality Act, “A person whose father or mother is a national of the Republic of Korea at the time of the person’s birth…shall be a national of the Republic of Korea.” But in cases of children out of wedlock, especially if the father is Korean and the mother is not a national of the Republic of Korea, without contact with their fathers, it is difficult for the child to acquire South Korean nationality. Child custody and legal guardianship are legal terms which are used to describe the legal and practical relationship between a parent and his or her child, such as the right to make decisions on behalf of their child and the parent's duty to care for the child. When getting divorced, one of the main issues that the parents have to think about is “Who will have custody over the children?” This is the same in cases of children out of wedlock.
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