Foreign divorce recognised in Taiwan?

Hi all,

I wonder if you know the answer to my questions:

Will the Taiwan courts recognise and accept divorce papers issued in a foreign country?

I married a Taiwanese national at a registry office in the UK. We then lived in Taiwan as a married couple for 7 years.

We had had a ‘qingke’ (wedding party and wedding photos) in Taiwan several months before the UK registry office marriage, but never documented this at a Taiwan court.

I am now back in the UK and in the process of getting a divorce from him in the UK and wonder if, once we get the Decree Absolute (finalised divorce) and have it translated and notarised by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK and the Taipei Representative Office in the UK, will the Taiwan courts recognise it as the end of our marriage?

My spouse (and lawyers I consulted in Taiwan before leaving) have informed me that the the ‘qingke’ in Taiwan was enough to be married in the eyes of Taiwan law, even if it was never registered.

I do not appear on any legal docs in TAiwan (household reg, etc) as being married. I got Permanent residency because I had been legally resident in Taiwan for 7 yrs independent of my spouse. Our daughter had an ARC through my APRC. She does not have a Taiwan passport and does not appear on household registration docs either, though her father is named on her UK birth certificate.

This leads me to a second question:
If my daughter and I ever returned to Taiwan, after UK divorce was finalised, and assuming that Taiwan courts recognises and accepted the translated divorce papers (including agreements regarding child custody, maintenance, etc), effectively ending any Taiwan marriage arising from the qingke, could my then ex claim custody on paternity grounds and bar me from leaving Taiwan with my daughter?

I realise Taiwan is a blackhole as far as child abduction is concerned, because it is not a signatory party to the HAgue Convention, so would I be utterly stupid, mad, etc. ever to trust my ex and his family not to pull any stunts like trying to keep my daughter in Taiwan?? Am I naive to hope that she can have a normal-ish (given the airmiles in between!) relationship with her biological father and extended family??

Thanks for any informed help/advice you can give me…

Generally, Taiwan courts/government will recognize and accept foreign divorces if there is reciprocity, i.e., the courts/government of those foreign jurisdictions will recognize Taiwan’s divorces (and marriages). I trust UK and Taiwan have such reciprocity. However, each situation may be different and there may be times when the Taiwan courts might not recognized such if, for one example, the grounds for the divorce in the foreign jurisdiction is vastly different from that which might be allowed for in Taiwan.

In your situation, one key point would be: is he consenting to the divorce in the UK or are you proceeding without him based on some “abandonment, did not answer a summons, etc.” reason? If he consents, this would make a strong case for the divorce decree and its provisions therein being recognized in and by Taiwan courts.

As for the child custody issue, again, if he consents, it would be harder for him (ultimately) to keep the child here. Still, it could happen. It’s a fairly easy process to go to the court and obtain an injunction to prevent a child from leaving. You would then be forced into a court action to overcome it.

As for this:

It happens all the time! How belligerent is your ex and family? Be careful.

Finally, as to your marriage in Taiwan, the law was changed this year (23 May 2008). Marriages after this date must be registered in the Household Registration. Prior to this date change, marriages only had to be made in “an open ceremony and with two or more witnesses.” If you have any kind of document/wedding ceremony certificate, etc. from your qingke, then you are probably considered married under Taiwan law.

You really need to consult a Taiwanese lawyer with experience in dealing with foreign judgments. This is complicated and messy area of law,.

Totally. And keep the kid out of the country in the meantime until all is resolved to your satisfaction.

Dear all,

Thank you Sandman, Feiren, and especially Baaadrabbit for your input.

Yes, I realise that it is a messy situation, but one that I hope (ever the optimist!!) to resolve amicably. At the moment, at least, my spouse agrees to the divorce in the UK for the reason that “the marriage has broken down irretrievably” as evidenced by our separation of two years or more. Though how we will negotiate the agreement over the statement of provisions for our child has yet to be seen…

I suppose the clearest solution would be to finalise the divorce in the UK. Then I could go to Taiwan on my own to get some kind of decree or ruling in a court regarding custody of our daughter based on the agreement we draw up. Does that sound feasible?


Oh, I forgot, does anyone know a good Taiwan lawyer with experience of foreign judgements?? As per Feiren’s post?