Retirement money ruling changes divorce scene

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Retirement money ruling changes divorce scene

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When the Seoul Family Court ruled that splitting retirement annuity should be a part of property division in a recent divorce case, many Korean women who were hesitating to get divorced began reconsidering in the hope of reducing the financial burden when they become single.

Retirement annuity just became an important variable for Korean couples in their 50s and 60s who are considering divorce. The ruling, however, became a headache for men, as they are faced with giving up a larger portion of their personal property.

The final ruling of dividing the retirement annuity was made in a divorce case held in the Seoul Family Court concerning a Korean couple in their 50s in August.

The court ordered a retired civil servant surnamed Park, 57, to give 40 percent of his retirement annuity, or 700,000 won ($624), to his ex-wife surnamed Lee, 54, every month.

Previously, many Korean women have tried to claim a portion of their ex-husbands’ retirement annuity, claiming that it was part of the couples’ property that should be divided in a divorce, but all of the claims were turned down.

The courts had ruled that the retirement annuity couldn’t be included in the property settlement. They said it was not possible to calculate the total amount of the annuity accurately because it wasn’t possible to know the exact date of death for the receiver of the annuity. But the court has allowed dividing the husbands’ severance pay because it gets paid in a lump sum after retirement and is calculable.

A 58-year-old homemaker surnamed Park recently visited a law office in Seoul in order to consult with an attorney. She told the attorney that she had been considering getting a divorce but hesitated to bring it about because there wasn’t much property to divide as her husband had lost most of his property in stock investments.

“I think the situation has changed now,” Park said. “I’ve decided to get divorced from my husband because he will be receiving 2 million won [$1,784] in retirement annuity every month from next January, and I think I can take a portion of it.”

Korean men are considering renouncing divorce.

“More and more men have visited my office and told me that they should reconsider their divorce if they have to give up a portion of the annuity,” Kim Soo-jin, an attorney specializing in divorce cases, said.

“I don’t get why I should give up a portion of my annuity,” a 63-year-old taxi driver surnamed Kim complained. “I’m the one who worked for my family and paid the insurance for the annuity.”


By Park Su-ryon [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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