November 08, 2014 08:21
A growing number of young Korean couples are heading to the U.S. state of Nevada for its famous quickie divorces. One U.S. attorney working in Korea said, "In the past, it was mainly celebrities or wealthy clients who wanted to avoid publicity and opted for divorce in the U.S., but these days even ordinary people are choosing that option."
If Las Vegas is most famous for gambling, nearby Reno is the world's divorce mecca. In fact people can divorce on the double anywhere in Nevada -- even those who did not get married in the state only have to prove that one partner has lived in the state for six weeks before filing a divorce.
Couples can then take the certified document to a local government office here and the process is complete. One person who got divorced in Nevada recently said, "I had no idea it was so easy."
Legal professionals here are not amused, ostensibly because the trip to Reno bypasses carefully thought-out Korean regulations.
One family court judge here denounced going to Reno divorce as an "underhand tactic" to bypass domestic courts. If a couple has a child, a typical divorce takes four months to a year. Even couples divorcing by mutual consent must attend education classes and consultation with court-appointed counselors, followed by a three-month cooling-off period before a divorce can be approved.
One divorce lawyer here suspects foul play. "There's been a marked rise in the number of people heading to the U.S. to get divorced, not only because they want to do it quickly but because they don't want to leave a paper trail here."
A court official said, "A lot of measures have been put in place to get married couples to think twice before going their separate ways. It's sad to see people fly off to the U.S. because they can't even be bothered to do that."
Quickie divorces have their pitfalls for Koreans. Suppose a spouse has committed adultery, which remains illegal here, and thereby lost his or her right to sue for divorce. He or she heads to Reno for a legal split, only to be discovered by the other spouse on return and taken to court regardless.
In July, a man who had secretly divorced his wife in Nevada was tried before a family court in Korea. The judge nullified the divorce, and the man had to appear before prosecutors for providing false information on the divorce papers.
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