Category Archives: Family Law

02Feb/13

Korean Family Law

 Grounds for Divorce in Korea

A divorce may be obtained in Korea based on the mutual consent of the spouses. Art. 834, Korean Civil Code. Both spouses need to agree and appear in court in Korea.

Alternatively, the grounds for a judicial divorce in Korea are:

1. An unchaste act (adultery);

2. Malicious desertion;

3. Extreme maltreatment by the other spouse or by his/her lineal ascendants;

4. Extreme maltreatment of one spouse’s lineal ascendant by the other spouse;

5. When the death or life of the spouse has been unknown for three years; or

6. Any other serious reason for which it is difficult to continue the marriage.

There is no provision for a no-fault divorce (except for a divorce by agreement between the parties).

The Korean judicial divorce process is a fault-based contest between a wrongdoer and the wronged. The courts reason that a guiltless spouse should not be forced into an unwanted divorce. Korean legal scholars supporting the fault-based system generally cite the following reasons: Granting a divorce to the party at fault goes against Confucian morality (doei), and may encourage the husband to arbitrarily abandon his wife, as was the practice in the past. Moreover, by forcing a couple to stay in marriage, it is believed that a wife will be able to continue to use the common property and receive support.

The standards that govern divorce and child custody in Korea are extremely subjective and the judges are vested with great discretion. The standards are very flexible. In the Korean system, the judge is intended to be a parent to the public, who is benevolent, lenient, and wise.

 

Financial Issues in Korean Divorce Law

 

The Korean Civil Code provides that, unless there is an agreement concerning the division of property, the Family Court shall “determine the amount and method of division, considering the amount of property acquired by cooperation of both parties and other circumstances.” Korea Civil Code, Art. 839-2(1).

The courts consider such factors as the parties’ ages, occupations, the reason why they came to a divorce, and their contribution to the property in deciding the proportion. The property that can be divided is property that was acquired during marriage through the cooperation of both spouses. Property that was acquired solely through the individual effort of one spouse even during the marriage is treated as the individual property of that party. Therefore, the court has a very broad discretion to determine what property is divisible, based on the extent to which the parties “cooperated” in the creation of any particular asset.

Of critical importance is the language in the Code to the effect that the Family Court should determine the amount and method of division “considering the amount of property acquired by cooperation of both parties and other circumstances.” Korea Civil Code, Art. 839-2(2).

Article 830 defines “particular property” as property that a spouse owned before marriage or property acquired during marriage but is under the name of only one spouse. The meaning of “particular property” in terms of divisible property under Article 839-2 is different from the meaning under Article 830. Property accumulated during marriage that is under only one spouse’s name is nonetheless divisible if it resulted from cooperation of the married couple.

The Supreme Court of Korea has affirmed lower court rulings that have insisted that the household labor of one spouse must be taken into account when applying this rule. Nonetheless, the Korean courts have historically undervalued the contribution of spouses who provide housework by giving them less property in the division of acquired marital property. Retirement allowances are divisible only if at the time of the divorce they have been received or the date of the retirement and the amount has been declared.

In addition, there is no spousal maintenance in Korea and the courts have the power to adjust the property division in favor of the economically disadvantaged party. For this reason, in some cases a nonworking spouse has received more than half of the parties’ assets.

 

Choice of Law in Korean Divorce Law

 

Korean courts apply the law of the parties’ common nationality to their divorce and to matters arising from the divorce. If there is no common nationality they will apply the law of a common habitual residence or otherwise the law of the place that is most closely connected to both spouses. Article 840. Korean Civil Code.

However, if one of the spouses is a Korean national whose habitual residence is in Korea the court must apply Korean law. Korea, Private International Act, Art. 39.

If the parties have chosen a foreign law to govern their marital property the choice will be respected if the agreement complies with execution requirements and if the law that is chosen is that of either spouse’s nationality or habitual residence (or in the case of real property is the law of the location of the property). Korea, Private International Act, Art. 38.

Issues concerning the legal relations between parents and children are governed by the law of the parents’ common nationality or otherwise by the law of the child’s habitual residence. Korea, Private International Act, Art. 45.

 

Korean Recognition of Foreign Divorce Decrees

 

Article 203 of the Korean Code of Civil Procedure provides as follows:

A final foreign judgment shall be valid and enforceable only if it satisfies the following conditions:

1. The jurisdiction of the foreign court of judgment is not denied by any law, or treaty;

2. if the losing defendant is Korean, he received service of summons or other orders necessary for the commencement of the action other than by public notice, or he made an appearance without receiving service thereof;

3. the foreign judgment is not contrary to the public policy or good morals of Korea; and

4. reciprocity is secured between Korea and that foreign country.

Two other provisions of the Korean Code of Civil Procedure are also of significance to enforcement:

Article 476 provides:

1. Enforcement based on the judgment of a foreign court may be carried out only when the admissibility thereof is pronounced by way of a judgment of enforcement rendered by the Korean court.

2. In regard to a suit demanding a judgment of enforcement, the District Court of the place where the general forum of a debtor exists shall have jurisdiction, and in case no general forum exists, the court having the jurisdiction over the action against the debtor in conformity with provisions of Article 9 shall have jurisdiction.

Article 477 provides:

1. A judgment of enforcement shall be rendered without inquiring into the merits of the decision.

2. A suit demanding a judgment of enforcement shall be dismissed in the following cases:

(i) When it is not certified that the judgment of a foreign court has become irrevocable;

(ii) When the foreign judgment does not fulfill the conditions prescribed in Article 203.

The effect of the three statutory provisions is to provide several distinct requirements that must be satisfied if a foreign judgment is to be enforced in Korea:
(a) The requirement of finality and conclusiveness

 

Interim awards are not the subject of enforcement proceedings in Korea. Foreign temporary dispositions are not recognizable because of their nature as provisional remedies.

A foreign judgment will be considered a final judgment only if there exists no possibility of a future appeal. The party seeking to enforce a foreign judgment must prove either that an appeal is not possible or that the time for an appeal has passed. California counsel should advise as to whether or not these conditions have been fulfilled.

An order for pre-judgment attachment and an order for pre-judgment injunction are examples of non-final judgments. Similarly, even if a foreign judgment which is permitted provisional enforcement pending an appeal is enforceable in the concerned jurisdiction, it cannot be a subject of recognition in Korea so long as it is not final.
(b) The issue of the location of the subject-matter

 

The in personam and in rem concepts are alien to Korean jurisprudence. Generally, a foreign judgment in rem would be recognized and/ or enforced in Korea when the judgment concerns immovable or movable property that was within the jurisdiction of the foreign court at the time of the proceeding.

 

(c) The jurisdiction of the foreign court

 

It is clear that a Korean court will not enforce a judgment of a foreign court concerning a dispute that is subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of Korea or a third country. For example, in an action concerning rights in Korean real estate Korean courts have exclusive jurisdiction. This will apply to movables located in Korea.
(d) Public policy

 

Public policy or good morals in Section 203 are judged by Korean standards. The requirement has a broad meaning, which may range from substantive contents of the foreign judgment to procedural fundamentals. The reasons leading to the conclusion as well as the conclusion of the foreign judgment itself should be examined in deciding whether or not the content of the foreign judgment is contrary to public policy or good morals.

A judgment ordering payment of support money should be recognized at least in cases involving foreigners, even if it based on polygamy, in view of the fact that the violation of the principle of monogamy is merely indirect. Public policy means the fundamental principles or ideology of Koreas national legal order and the general sense of morality prevailing in Korean society. The compatibility of a foreign judgment with public policy should be determined by comparing the personal and public interests that might be promoted by recognizing a foreign judgment with the possibility that the national legal order or social ethics may be infringed thereby.

A foreign judgment, the substance of which is not compatible with fundamental principles of Korean law, cannot be recognized in Korea. In determining compatibility with public policy, the factual basis of a judgment, as well as its text, must be taken into consideration. Thus, even a monetary judgment may be held in violation of Korean public policy if the factual basis of such judgment is so illegal or repugnant that the assistance of the Korean courts in implementing the judgment is deemed unacceptable in light of Korean legal philosophy. For example, a judgment ordering the defendant to deliver contraband goods, or a judgment confirming the legality of a concubine is not recognizable in Korea.

Article 17(1) of the Korean Conflict of Laws Act provides that The matrimonial property system shall be governed by the lex patriae of the husband at the time of the marriage. Article 18 of the Korean Conflict of Laws Act provides that Divorce shall be governed by the lex patriae of the husband at the time of the occurrence of the causal facts: Provided that the court may not adjudicate a divorce if the causal facts do not constitute the chief causes for a divorce under the Acts of the Republic of Korea.

Article 23 of the Korean Conflict of Laws Act provides that the duty to support shall be governed by the lex patriae of the person liable to support.

Article 840 of the Korean Civil Act sets forth the bases for a judicial divorce, which are:

1. act of unchastity,

2. malicious desertion,

3. extreme maltreatment,

4. death or life of the spouse is unknown for three years and

5. any other serious cause for making it difficult to continue the marriage. There is no provision for a no-fault divorce (except for a divorce by agreement between the parties).

The Korean judicial divorce is premised on the fault-based system of a contest between a wrongdoer and the wronged. The courts reason that a guiltless spouse should not be forced into unwanted divorce. Korean legal scholars supporting the fault-based system generally cite the following reasons: Granting divorce to the party at fault goes against the Confucian morality (doei), and it may encourage the husband to arbitrarily abandon his wife, as was the practice in the past. Moreover, by forcing a couple to stay in marriage, it is believed that a wife will be able to continue to use the common property and receive support.

The standards that govern divorce and child custody in Korea are extremely subjective and the judges are vested with great discretion. The standards are very flexible. (Lee, p. 493). In the Korean system, the judge is intended to be a parent to the public, who is benevolent, lenient and wise.

(e) Reciprocity

 

It is not necessary that a Korean judgment has been recognized in practice if it is predictable that a Korean judgment will be recognized in light of statutes and legal theories in the foreign country. The conditions of recognition do not have to be identical in Korea and the foreign country. A substantial similarity in important points of the respective requirements should be considered sufficient. The term reciprocity in Section 203 means that the particular foreign country does not inquire into the merits of a Korean judgment by reason of a treaty or its domestic law, and that such foreign country would recognize the validity of a Korean judgment under a standard similar to or more lenient than that of Article 203. Reciprocity means that as the Korean courts recognize judgments of foreign courts, so should the foreign courts recognize Korean judgments. Reciprocity purports to prevent inequitable treatment of Korean judgments by foreign courts.

Several scholars construe reciprocity to mean that the foreign equivalent of Art. 203 must be either the same or more lenient than the Korean standards for reciprocity. Others argue that the foreign recognition standards not differ in any important respects from the requirements found in Art. 203. Recognition of a foreign divorce judgment becomes impossible, however, if the husbands national law is not applied in a suit in which the divorce defendant is Korean. The only court case to face this issue involved a Nevada ex parte divorce decree granted to a Korean businessman who had previously established a temporary residence in New York. The Supreme Court case 71 Da 1634 on Oct. 22, 1971 refused to recognize the Nevada divorce judgment between two Korean spouses on the ground of reciprocity.

Since the Nevada court granted him a divorce for a reason not available in Korea (noncohabitation), the Supreme Court reasons that giving res judicata effect to the Nevada judgment, and thereby barring the wife’s subsequent suit for divorce for malicious desertion and a monetary settlement, which it was considering, would violate Korean public policy evident in Article 18 of the Law concerning Conflict of Laws. While a foreign divorce judgment may be conclusive as to the question of marital status without application of Article 203, any provisions for payment of support can only be enforced by a suit in exequatur under Article 476. Recourse to exequatur on the foreign judgment will therefore cause Article 203 to become directly applicable, including the reciprocity requirement in Article 203 (4).

In a 1971 case involving the recognition of a divorce decree of a Nevada state court, the Supreme Court of Korea clearly declared its support of the first theory (that is, the theory of same or more generous conditions). However, although the Supreme Court has never expressly admitted that it changed its position on this point, the Supreme Court is generally believed to have changed its position and nowadays to support the second theory since a decision of the Seoul District Court of 1995 which expressly took the second theory was upheld by the Supreme Court. Reciprocity means that as the Korean courts recognize judgments of foreign courts, so should the foreign courts recognize Korean judgments. Reciprocity purports to prevent inequitable treatment of Korean judgments by foreign courts.

The lower Korean courts have held that there was reciprocity between Korea and the State of New York, Germany, Japan, respectively. However, the Supreme Court of Korea denied the existence of reciprocity between Korea and Australia.
(f) Extent of Recognition/ Enforcement

 

It is generally accepted in Korea that when a foreign judgment deals with more than one claim, recognition may cover only part of the judgment. It was not clear whether the amount for a judgment for one claim may be recognized only partially in terms of amount. An example is to recognize a judgment for punitive damages only to the extent consistent with the public policy of Korea by reducing the amount of the judgment. However, in a recent case the Supreme Court of Korea upheld the decision of the Seoul District Court which has expressly recognized only 50% of the amount of the foreign judgment.

There is also the question of public policy about a foreign judgment (particularly an American court) awarding so-called punitive damages or excessive damages. Some commentators have argued that Korean courts should refuse to recognize such a foreign judgment since it is inconsistent with the international standards for compensation of damages or, alternatively, Korean courts should reduce the amount of damages to a level comparable to international standards. In this connection, it should also be noted that the Conflict of Laws Act of Korea provides that damages for a tort committed abroad may be awarded in Korea only to the extent allowed under the relevant Korean law (Sec. 13 (3) CLA). In light of this provision, it may also be argued that a foreign judgment awarding damages for an amount greater than the one that may be awarded by a Korean court in a similar case should be regarded to be contrary to the public policy of Korea.

The 1995 case involved the recognition and enforcement of a judgment of the court of the State of Minnesota against the Korean defendant ordering payment of $500,000 as damages (including mental anguish, physical injury, consequent medical expenses, loss of earnings, etc) plus reasonable compensation for damages arising out of the assault and rape of the plaintiff, the Eastern Branch of Seoul District Court found that the amount of award was much higher than would be acceptable under Korean law for such damages and thus reduced the amount of compensation that would be enforceable to $250,000, i.e. 50% of the original amount awarded by the Minnesota court, based upon the rationale that recognition and enforcement of the portion in excess of $250,000 would be against the public policy of Korea. The judgment was upheld by the Supreme Court of Korea in 1997. See Judgment of September 9, 1997 in re 96 Da 47517 Case.

02Feb/13

Jordan: Family Law

JORDAN AND CHILD ABDUCTION

 

Note: The information contained in this flyer is intended as an introduction to the basic elements of children’s issues in Jordan. It is not intended as a legal reference. Currently there are no international or bilateral treaties in force between Jordan and the United States dealing with international parental child abduction. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction cannot be invoked if a child is taken from the United States to Jordan, or vice versa, by one parent against the wishes of the other parent or in violation of a U.S. custody order.

 

Jordanian laws regarding divorce and custody of minor children are adjudicated in religious courts. If the marriage partners are Muslim, disputes will be resolved before a Sharia court judge who will apply principles of Islamic law. In the case of Christians, the court will be an Ecclesiastical Court composed of clergymen from the appropriate religious community. For Christians, the law will be derived from principles governing family status in the Greek Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic Church or other Christian denominations.

Child Custody Law

In both theory and practice, Muslim and Christian courts in Jordan differ very little in how they resolve disputes over the custody of children of divorced or separated parents. The relevant laws all give priority for custodianship to the mother as long as certain restrictive conditions are met. In Muslim courts, this right of custody extends to the natural mother until the children reach 18 years of age. In cases where custody of small children is granted to a woman other than the mother, custody reverts to the father when a boy reaches age nine and a girl reaches age eleven. Christian courts will generally award custody to the mother until the children come of age.

In actual practice, the conditions placed on the mother’s primary right to custody often enable the father to maintain a great deal of influence on the rearing of the children even though he may not have legal custody. For example, travel restrictions exist in Jordan. The mother must seek the fathers approval to travel with the children. Frequently, he is actually able to assume legal custody against the wishes of the mother, when she is unable or unwilling to meet the conditions set by law for her to maintain her right to custody of the children.

A mother can lose her primary right to custody of a child in a number of ways. The court can determine that she is incapable of safeguarding the child or of bringing the child up in accordance with the appropriate religious standards. The mother can void her right to custody by re-marrying or by residing in a home with people that might be “strangers” to the child. The mother may not deny visitation rights to the father or the paternal grandfather and may not travel outside Jordan with the child without their approval and the approval of the court. In general, a Jordanian man divorcing his non-Jordanian wife will be awarded legal custody of their children by showing that any of the above conditions may not be met to the satisfaction of the court.

Right of Visitation

In cases where the father has custody of a child, the mother is guaranteed visitation rights. It has been the experience of the Embassy in Amman that the father and the paternal grandparents of the child are generally very open and accommodating in facilitating the right of the mother to visit and maintain contact with the child.

Enforcement of Foreign Orders

Custody orders and judgments of foreign courts are not enforceable in Jordan if they potentially contradict or violate local laws and practices. For example, an order from a U.S. court granting custody to an American mother will not be honored in Jordan if the mother intends to take the child to the United States and live outside of Jordan. Nor will Jordanian courts enforce a U.S. court decree ordering a parent in Jordan to pay for child support since Jordanian law states that the parent with custody is responsible for providing financial support for the child.

Parental Child Abduction

Child abduction is a serious offense in Jordan. Any person, including a parent, who abducts a child in order to deprive the legal guardian of custody, or to unlawfully obtain custody and remove a child from Jordan, faces a prison sentence of three months to three years and a fine. A mother may also face serious legal difficulties if she attempts to take her children out of Jordan without the permission of the father. Border officials may ask to see such permission in writing before allowing children to exit.

Final Note: American citizens who travel to Jordan place themselves under the jurisdiction of Jordanian courts. If a Jordanian parent chooses to remain in Jordan or leave a child behind in Jordan, the U.S. Embassy cannot force either the parent or the Jordanian Government to return the child to the United States, nor is it possible in most cases to extradite a Jordanian parent to the United States for parental child abduction. American citizens planning a trip to Jordan with dual national children should bear this in mind.

02Feb/13

Italy: Family Law

   ITALY AND CHILD ABDUCTION

Italy ratified and implemented the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (hereafter the Convention), on October 25, 1980, through Law No. 64 of January 15, 1994. Following ratification, the Convention entered into force in Italy on May 1, 1995.

 

According to article 3 of Law No. 64, the Central Office for Juvenile Justice at the Ministry of Justice has been designated the Italian Central Authority pursuant to article 6 of the Convention. In the discharge of its responsibilities, the Central Authority avails itself, whenever necessary, of the assistance of a state attorney (Avvocatura dello Stato), as well as of the Juvenile Services of the Justice administration (Servizi minorili). It may further request the cooperation of any public administrative body, the police, or any agency or authority whose objectives correspond with the functions entrusted to the Central Authority under the Convention. 

Any judicial documents for the implementation of Law No. 64 in the judicial proceedings initiated at the request of the Central Authority are free of any charge or fee, including the stamp duty and registration tax.

Applications for the return of a removed child or for securing the effective exercise of the rights of access are filed through the Central Authority pursuant to articles 8 and 21 of the Convention; however, the interested party may apply directly to the appropriate authorities, according to article 29 of the Convention.

According to Law No. 64, the Italian Central Authority, having made the necessary preliminary investigations, must expeditiously send all documents to the public prosecutor attached to the Juvenile Court where the minor was found, to make an urgent request to this court to order the return of the minor or the effective exercise of the rights of access. The date of the hearing in chambers is set by the presiding judge and is communicated to the Central Authority. The applicant is informed by the Central Authority of the date of hearings so that he may appear, being responsible for his own expenses, and may be heard.

The Court should issue a decision within 30 days from the date the application was received. The person caring for the minor, the public prosecutor, and, when appropriate, the minor must be heard.

The decree of the Court is immediately enforceable. The filing of an appeal to the Supreme Court (ricorso per Cassazione) does not stay its enforcement. The public prosecutor, with the cooperation of the Juvenile Services of the Justice Administration when needed, provides for the enforcement of the decisions of the Court and immediately informs the Central Authority.

Enforcement of Italian court orders in Hague Convention cases is carried out by the Public Prosecutor. It has been pointed out that in the event that an abductor refuses to comply with the order, it becomes the duty of the Chief Public Prosecutor in the region of the child’ s residence to ask the police Minor Division for assistance in removing the child, usually with the support of social services.

Under the provisions of the Italian System of Private International Law, any judicial rulings by foreign authorities relating to the existence of family relations are effective in Italy if they have been issued by the authorities of the state to which reference is made in the Italian law, provided that they do not conflict with the requirements of public policy and provided that the fundamental rights of the defense have been complied with.

Regarding determinations pertaining to the custody of a child, a ruling of the Italian Supreme Court (Corte Di Cassazion) needs to be considered.

In 1997, the Italian Supreme Court decided an appeal in a case of removal of a child by his father from Australia to Italy, and upheld a Juvenile Court’s decision that ordered the immediate return, in application of the Convention, of the removed child to his mother, who had been assigned custody of him by an Australian family court.

The Supreme Court rejected challenges of constitutional illegitimacy of Italian Law No. 64 implementing the Convention, on the consideration that the Convention aims at the protection of minors from the wrongful behavior of their parents or relatives independently of any control over the merits of the case by the authorities of the requested contracting state.

Having acknowledged the Convention’ s primary purpose, namely the protection of the minor from the harmful effects of wrongful removal or retention in breach of custody rights, the Court underscored the fact that the main objective in such cases is to discourage any form of “legal kidnapping” by a parent or relative. This is done by providing forms of protection that attempt, above all, to re-establish the preexisting conditions and to neutralize any interest of the perpetrator of the removal or retention to obtain through wrongful behavior any beneficial effect from forum shopping.

The Court excluded any conflict with article 30 of the Constitution, which pertains to parents’ rights and obligations to support and educate their children, on the basis of two considerations: that the Convention is a duly accepted international instrument, whose function is the effective protection of minors against wrongful behavior of parents or relatives; and that the limitations imposed on the requested state’s judicial authority pertaining to any control over the merits of the case are not applicable when it is determined that a serious risk exists, that the child would be exposed to physical or psychological harm or would be placed in an intolerable situation upon his return.

The Court stated that only in the presence of such a risk may Italy’s judicial authority refuse to restore custody and review the merits of the case. The existence of a situation of risk, the Court observed, was not invoked by the removing parent, and the condition that allows the judicial authority to ascertain whether or not the child objects to being returned was not met.

The Court went on to clarify that in the Italian system the decision to return the child, as such, is not even potentially capable of conflicting with the decision to be issued in the separation case between the two parents pending before an Italian court.

In the same decision, the Court also confirmed that Hague Convention-related cases are adjudicated by the court at the place where the minor is found, pointing out that such a legislative solution regarding territorial competence is not a novelty, but rather is found in the Law on Adoption as well.

With the ratification and implementation of the Convention, Italy has provided its legal system with an instrument whereby it can confront situations of great social relevance, such as abduction of minors, frequent in modern industrialized societies.

The Italian implementing legislation has fully adhered to the principles contained in article 2 of the Convention, which requires the use of the most expeditious procedures available in cases of abduction of minors. The implementing legislation mandates proceedings in chambers, imposes a short term for deciding the case, and limits appeals to a petition to the Court of Cassation (Supreme Court). Such a petition, however, does not stay the enforcement of the lower court’s order.

Adapted from report of Giovanni Salvo to the Law Library of Congress

02Feb/13

Indonesia: Family Law

INDONESIA AND CHILD ABDUCTION: Dual Citizenship Urged for Mixed Couples

By Hera Diani

The citizenship bill awaiting deliberation in the House (2005) has been heavily criticized for discriminating against mixed couples and their children, prompting activists to call on the government to grant mixed couples and their offspring dual citizenship or permanent residency here.

Activists say granting these couples dual citizenship or permanent residency would eliminate many of the problems and discriminatory regulations they face because of the uncertain status of their children.

The House of Representatives agreed in June to deliberate the citizenship bill, promising to include more flexible regulations for mixed couples.

The citizenship bill will revise Law No. 62/1958, which critics say denies mixed couples and their children the opportunity to live as a “complete family”.

The law, for example, stipulates that children of mixed couples automatically assume their father’s citizenship, and a divorced wife cannot take custody of her children because they have different citizenship.

Also, expatriate women married to Indonesian men must be sponsored by their husbands to live and work her. In many cases, an Indonesian husband can withdraw his sponsorship of his wife and force her to return to her country, leaving behind any children the couple have.

Critics say, however, that the citizenship bill does not improve on the old law.

Article 2 of the bill, for example, states that an Indonesian woman in a mixed marriage can claim Indonesian citizenship for her child only through a prenuptial agreement.

“What about children who have already been born and their parents do not have a prenuptial agreement?” Dewi Tjakrawinata, an executive of an alliance that groups some 4,000 mixed parents in Indonesia, said during a discussion at the office of the National Commission on Violence Against Women.

She pointed to Article 8 of the bill, which requires an expatriate living for 15 consecutive years in Indonesia, or 20 nonconsecutive years, to have a permanent job and a steady paycheck to apply for Indonesian citizenship. The existing law, meanwhile, only requires an expatriate to live in the country for five years before applying for citizenship.

Another article in the bill states that dual citizenship is only granted for children born in countries that adopt the ius soli principle, which grants nationality to people based on where they are born.

Ramli Hutabarat, an expert staff at the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, however, said dual citizenship could generate more problems, particularly if the holder committed a crime.

“True, we can have a regulation on extradition. But in reality, it is not that easy. We have to consider the political, security, economic and legal aspects of applying dual citizenship.

“It is about one’s identity. One can have a ‘split personality’ because of dual citizenship,” he said at the forum.

Dewi dismissed these arguments. “Do not relate this to crime, but for the sake of human rights … the right for families to stay together. Children born in this country are assets. They cannot chose their identity.

“If the government does not want to offer dual citizenship, then give us a solution so that mixed couples and their children can live in peace.”