CAMP CASEY -- Filing for Divorce in Korea can be complicated because Korean District Courts will only issue a divorce if one of the parties is a Korean citizen. You must file for divorce in the United States if neither you nor your spouse is a Korean citizen.
The following information will guide you through the roller coaster of a ride that a divorce could become.
You should file for divorce in the state where you or your spouse is a resident. More than one state might have jurisdiction if you and your spouse are residents of different states. You could choose either state. Most states have residency requirements which require either you or your spouse to have lived in the state for a certain period of time before filing.
Once you decide to file for divorce, you should update your SGLI, will, family care plan, and separate your bank accounts and credit cards. A legal assistance attorney can assist you in drafting a separation agreement which will address who pays certain bills, division of property, child custody, and support. You must pay family support on the first of every month in accordance with AR 608-99.
You can file a pro se divorce (without an attorney) if you and your spouse agree on all of the terms of your divorce. Many states post divorce forms online. Filing for divorce while stationed in Korea may require some snail mail correspondence with your spouse if your spouse is located in the U.S., because you both need to sign the documents. You may also need to give a relative or close friend located in the U.S. a power of attorney to file the documents on your behalf.
You should hire an attorney if you and your spouse do not agree on the terms of your divorce. If you have children, an attorney will represent you in a custody dispute. The state where the child has lived for the past six months has jurisdiction to determine custody. If a child has been living in a foreign country, like Korea, for the past six months, then the foreign country is treated as a state and is the only jurisdiction able to determine custody. Courts consider the best interest of the child when determining which parent will have primary custody.
An attorney is also helpful if alimony and division of retirement pay are issues in your divorce. Courts consider several factors to determine whether the non-Servicemember spouse is entitled to military benefits.
The Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act (SCRA) allows the court to suspend the divorce proceedings, for at least ninety days, if the Servicemember is not able to appear in court due to military service. An attorney at the legal assistance office can help you draft the required documents to send to the court. Remember that adultery is a crime punishable by the UCMJ. Even if you and your spouse are separated, you can be charged with adultery. Legal assistance attorneys are available to answer any of your questions.