[EDITORIALS]Family law must be revised

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[EDITORIALS]Family law must be revised

The Ministry of Gender Equality recently commissioned the Law Research Institute of Seoul National University to survey public opinion on the family registration system for children of divorced parents. Of those polled, 77 percent said children of divorced parents should be registered as family members of the parent who has custody.

In the case of a divorced woman who remarries and the stepfather actually plays a role of father in the family, 71.5 percent of those surveyed said the children should be registered as family members of the stepfather, with no need of consent from the birth father. The survey outcome shows that revising the current family registration system is unavoidable if we are to protect the children of divorced families from more suffering caused by an inconsiderate social system.

The yearly number of divorces in our society was less than 50,000 just 10 years ago. But the number reached 120,000 in 2000. One out of three marriages end in divorce.

Korea has the highest rate of traffic fatalities among the members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The number of young people dying from diseases, such as cancer, leaving their beloved families behind, is growing. Despite such changes in society, siblings in families created by remarriage still have different last names and the stepfather is still legally a stranger to them.

Although two revision bills on civil law to change the status of the children of divorced families were submitted to the National Assembly's Legislation and Judiciary Committee at the beginning of this year, none has been voted on. The National Assembly's only plan on the matter is to hold public discussions in January. While the political parties are calculating their political interests in those bills, many children are suffering.

We have suggested allowing children of remarried mothers to use their stepfather's family name if the mother has custody. Before establishing a law, a provisional act governing the issue could be introduced. The National Assembly should waste no more time; we again urge lawmakers to devise a plan for the under-age children of the remarried parents.
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