Seoul Court Rules Against Annulment Of Existing Marriages Between Close Cousins
The Seoul Constitutional Court has ruled that the current civil law invalidating marriages among third cousins and closer relatives does not conform to the Constitution and needs to be revised.
According to the court, it is constitutional for civil law to prohibit marriages between third and closer cousins.
It also said that a civil law clause that nullifies the existing marriages between third cousins and closer relatives is incompatible with the Constitution and it has to be amended.
The ruling came after a plaintiff in divorce proceedings had asked the court to review the possible unconstitutionality of the second clause of the Civil Act’s Article 815.
The Civil Act’s Article stipulates that if people within third cousins marry each other, the marriage is subject to annulment.
However, the court usually issues a constitutional nonconformity ruling to prevent confusion from an immediate annulment of a legal provision, even though it recognises its unconstitutionality.
According to court, If the legislature does not amend the law, the Civil Act clause will lose its effect after Dec. 31, 2024.
The court said the first clause of the Civil Act’s Article 815 banning marriages between third and closer cousins conforms to the Constitution.
The constitutional petition began after the plaintiff was ordered by district and appellate courts to divorce their spouse, a second cousin.
The couple were married for several years after meeting in the United States, the plaintiff’s spouse requested a divorce when returning to South Korea.