Seoul, – Seoul Constitutional Court on Thursday 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.
The court said that it is constitutional for civil law to prohibit marriages between third and closer cousins.
However, it said a civil law clause that nullifies the existing marriages between third cousins and closer relatives is incompatible with the Constitution and 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, which stipulates that if people within third cousins marry each other, the marriage is subject to annulment.
The court usually issues a constitutional nonconformity ruling to prevent confusion from an immediate annulment of a legal provision, though it recognizes its unconstitutionality.
If the legislature does not amend the law, the Civil Act clause will lose its effect after Dec. 31, 2024, the court said.
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 but the plaintiff’s spouse requested a divorce after returning to South Korea. (Yonhap/NAN)