Some answers about divorce in Taiwan
Getting a divorce in Taiwan is extremely easy, so long as the two parties agree to divorce. If both spouses agree that the marriage is to end and come to a mutually satisfying agreement regarding the final divorce settlement, you have an uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce the couple is able to come to an agreement on issues such as property division, child support, spousal support and any other financial issues. If both you and your spouse agree to divorce and agree to the terms of the divorce, then you just need to go to a bookstore and buy a “do it yourself” divorce document, fill it in completely, then head over to the household registration office and file for the divorce. You could be divorced within five minutes! That’s it! It’s so darned easy it boggles the mind.
On the other hand, if the two parties can’t come to an agreement as to whether or not to divorce or the terms of the divorce, then you have a contested divorce. In Taiwan, contested divorces are never easy to obtain. The basic rule of thumb to remember is that in Taiwan a husband can’t divorce his wife without her consent AND a wife can’t divorce her husband without his consent. So, it’s impossible to win a contested divorce? No, it’s not impossible, just extremely difficult.
Example: A man wishes to divorce his wife and informs her of his intentions. The wife says, for whatever reasons, “No!”. If the man desires to pursue a divorce without his wife’s consent, then he must provide proof that she has violated one of the ten statutes of Taiwan’s civil code which would qualify as grounds for the awarding of a contested divorce. Remember, he would need irrefutable proof of the violation which isn’t very easy to obtain.
Grounds For Statutory Divorce
[quote=“Taiwan’s Civil Code Article 1052”]
- One spouse ill-treats the other so as to render living together intolerable.
- One spouse humiliates the linear ascendants of the other spouse such that living together becomes intolerable.
- One spouse deserts the other spouse in bad faith.
- One spouse has a loathsome incurable disease.
- One spouse has an incurable serious mental disease.
- One spouse has made an attempt to end the life of the other.
- One spouse is uncertain for a period in excess of three years as to whether the other spouse is alive or dead.
- One spouse has been sentenced to imprisonment for not less than three years.[/quote]
Because it’s so difficult to satisfy the requirements for an uncontested divorce, divorce usually occurs through negotiation. When I say negotiation, that usually means that the party who wishes to divorce must pay off or “buy” the divorce from their spouse. Pay them off so that they will agree to divorce and it will change from a contested divorce to the easy peasy uncontested divorce. The cost to get the spouse to agree to a divorce is usually extremely expensive. The cost can include cash, property, spousal support, child support, custody of minor children, just to name the most common demands. If the person requesting a divorce is a foreigner, the Taiwanese spouse also usually requires a promise to leave Taiwan and return to their home country as well.
People can quote the “law” all they want until they are blue in the face and say that the division of assets upon divorce is divided between the parties equally 50/50, but unfortunately that is NOT grounded in reality. The reality is a nasty vindictive spouse who knows that you can’t get a divorce unless they agree with it and their agreement is going to cost you dearly! This is especially hard on foreign spouses of Taiwanese citizens. The Taiwanese citizen knows too well that they wield all the power in the relationship based on the precarious position that their JFRV spouse is in as it pertains to immigration status. More often than not, a Taiwanese spouse wants nothing better than to see their foreign spouse lose their visa status and have to leave Taiwan. If this happens, any time accrued toward getting permanent residency (APRC) is for naught as a change in your visa status resets your five year clock for qualifying. When you are married and on a JFRV based ARC and you get a divorce, you are required to leave the island and then return on a visitor’s visa before you can opt for an employment based ARC or business based visa. Yes, you can go from an employment based ARC to a JFRV ARC without leaving the island and changing your visa status, but for reasons I don’t know, you can’t go from a JFRV marriage ARC back to an employment based ARC without leaving. Maybe it’s an official discriminatory policy to prevent foreigners from getting an APRC if their marriages end before the five year mark. At any rate, many foreigners who want to get a divorce will opt to stay married until they cross the five year APRC qualifying period, then get the APRC, and then get divorced. However, if it is the foreigner that wants the divorce, they still have to “buy” the divorce as was illustrated before.
So, I’m talking out of my ass am I? Let’s do some case studies together, shall we? I have read Forumosa since way back when it was first called Oriented and then Segue. I’m a geek. When I see postings that I find interesting, shocking or relevant, I save them, print them out and put them into a file. I’ve got a really thick file titled DIVORCE where I put postings regarding divorce in Taiwan. I’ve got many case studies to choose from. But, those are just hearsay. I read a story about a guy who knew a guy who had a friend who blah blah blah. Let’s look at real life true personal experience, shall we? In addition to all these articles posted over the years by Forumosa users regarding their experiences with divorce and newspaper articles from the Taipei Times and the China Post, I’ve been personally involved in three cases of contested divorce in Taiwan. No, not me, at least not yet, that is. Let’s examine just two of the most memorable and recent cases I’ve been involved in, shall we?
[color=#FF0000]Case 1: - Began July 2008 - Finalized August 2010[/color]
A foreign man on a JFRV wanted to divorce his wife because she had really turned into a bat-shit crazy bitch. His life was intolerable. He even considered leaving Taiwan just to get away from her. He managed to secure his APRC first and then asked his wife for a divorce. She told him, “No”! She suspected that he wanted a divorce because he had another woman. Not true. She had Taiwanese detectives follow him around trying to catch him in the act of cheating. No evidence ever surfaced because he wasn’t cheating. He just wanted to desperately get away from her. He moved out and told her he was never going to reconcile with her and that she needed to see that the relationship was irretrievably broken and it would never work out. She finally agreed and said she would agree to the divorce, but first she wanted the house signed over to her free and clear and she also wanted $10,000,000 NTD in cash! He told her, “No, friggin’ way. The law says 50/50 split of assets!” She told him he was welcome to sue her in court for it. So, against my advice, he went out and hired a very high priced lawyer. No, I won’t reveal the name. The lawyer took the guy’s money and told him about the statute of ten grounds for a contested divorce in Taiwan. Scheesh,I had already told him about that for free! The man and his lawyer decided to make the allegation of statute three in order to win a judgment of divorce from his wife. [color=#FF0000]3. One spouse ill-treats the other so as to render living together intolerable.[/color] The lawyer asked him if there were any violent episodes between him and his wife where he was the victim. Any hospital reports, bills, stays…any police reports identifying him as the victim of domestic violence…any unimpeachable witnesses who could testify to her violent or emotional abusive behaviour and character, etc. He had nothing to back it up. Nothing. The lawyer said that since he had no evidence illustrating the ill-treatment by his wife that he should go back and try to negotiate with his wife and “buy” the divorce from her! I shit you not. Now that’s professional lawyer advice! The guy refused. After all, it’s not just the money, which is very substantial, it’s the principle of the matter that really grinded on him. Why should he be required to pay for a divorce? Why shouldn’t she have to pay him off? So he told the lawyer to file the lawsuit for divorce and let a judge decide. It sounds good on paper, but it’s not that simple. Once you file the lawsuit for divorce you can’t just get an appointment with the judge and have a ruling issued. It is a really long and time consuming process. I’m talking hours and hours and months! You are first required to attend a minimum of three mediations to see if the issues can be resolved without wasting the Taiwanese judge’s precious time. If after the third mediation a compromise can’t be found a court date to have an actual judge hear the case is scheduled. So, he showed up for mediation with his lawyer, his wife showed up with her lawyer and they all met with a government mediator. The whole mediation process revolved around how much money he had to pay in order to get his wife to agree to the divorce or how much money his wife would find acceptable to agree to the divorce! All the while his lawyer was taking his money to represent him and his wife’s lawyer was taking his money to represent her! It was surreal. Well, he went to all three mediation sessions, spent thousands of dollars on his attorney’s fees and was about ready to schedule an appointment with the judge to hear the case. Suddenly, he came to his senses and he engaged me to “mediate” for him. He handed me an attaché case and sent me to talk to his wife. I told her that she was to meet with us at the Household Registration Office the next morning to sign the divorce papers and be done with it. If she agreed, then she could have the house to herself free and clear and I would turn the attaché case over to her at the HHRO the moment the divorce was finalized. I then dramatically opened the case to show her the $5,000,000 NTD contained within. I warned her that this was the final offer and that there was no more room for negotiations or stalling tactics. If she didn’t show up the next morning to sign the divorce papers, the deal was off and her husband would make an appointment with the judge and fight for the house and every last asset and leave her with nothing. The next morning she showed up and cheerily signed the divorce papers and I immediately turned the attaché case over to her. In the end, he bought his divorce for $5,000,000 NTD in cash, approximately $15,000,000 NTD in real estate and thousands of dollars in wasted attorney’s fees not to mention all the wasted time and effort. He’s not happy about the money, but he’s just glad that it’s finally over and he’s now a free man. He states that he will never get married again. I believe him.
[color=#FF0000]Case 2: Began 2008 - Pending[/color]
A foreign man married to a Taiwanese woman. Nearly the exact same scenario as in case #1 with a few different and interesting twists. The man had an APRC, so he was never in danger of losing his visa status. However, he desperately needed a divorce because he had another woman on the side and wanted to divorce his wife so he could openly be with the new one. His wife knew about the other woman, but never had any clear proof of adultery. So, she agreed to a divorce, but only if he “bought” it from her for the price of the house (turn it over to her free and clear) and an obscene amount of cash. He refused and told her that he would sue her for divorce in court. He consulted with me and I told him not to hire an attorney and to try to mediate and come to an agreement with his wife by himself. I even offered to mediate the situation for free. He rebuffed my advice and my offer of assistance. Apparently, I’m an idiot and don’t know my ass from a hole in the ground. So, he hired an expensive attorney, paid thousands of dollars for legal representation, went to all the mediation sessions and refused to agree to pay anything for the divorce. His reasoning was that before his wife met him, she was just a low class hillbilly with no future and being married to him already enriched her life and therefore she wasn’t due any more than what she already had. He wasn’t even willing to split the joint assets 50/50 even though his wife would never have agreed to an equitable split anyway. Remember, they want it ALL! So after the final mediation, which resulted in no progress, he had his attorney make an appointment to appear before a judge and hear the case. He appeared before the judge. Guess what? You know what the judge said? He said that the man had not proven any grounds for a contested divorce and therefore ruled in favor of his wife. NO DIVORCE, so sayeth the judge! I haven’t had much contact with this man for the past 6 months and as far as I know, he’s still married to his wife and refuses to “buy” the divorce from her. He wasted tons of money on lawyer’s fees and countless hours and months and he’s still no closer to being divorced! :loco: Talk about being stubborn!
[color=#FF0000]Case 3: - As concerned members of the Forumosa family, we are all involved in this case.[/color]
The most recent case to hit the Forumosa Forums.
[quote=“Tue, [color=#FF0000]08 Mar 2011[/color] 0:38”]First off I want to ask if anyone can recommend a good divorce lawyer. I’ve looked around in the forum and couldn’t find any information.
Second of all let me tell you the short of the long and ask some advice:
Wife and I got married 1.5 years ago. At the time I basically had no money. My mother passed away last year (after we were married) and I inherited money from her.
We bought a house in Taiwan late last year. The house is in her name as I wait for my ARC to come through (It will arrive next week). The car I bought her and my car are also in her name for the same reason.
What part of my assets would she be entitled to?[/quote]
My initial response.
First of all, allow me to apologize to the OP for my terse and seemingly unsympathetic first response to your situation. My first thought when I read it was, “Oh no! Here we go again! Another poor foreigner is about to get screwed over and there ain’t anything that he’s going to be able to do about it!” It was very late that night I made my response, I was really tired and I should have held off responding to your cry for help until I reached the confines of my office, opened up my filing cabinet, pulled out my very thick file on divorce and then composed a more thoughtful and helpful response to your situation. So, here it is, finally. I’m terribly sorry that it took so damned long. I hope you find this more helpful than my initial response to your plight. Remember, we are all on your side and only hope for the best for you.
First and foremost, you haven’t provided us with enough clear details regarding your situation. You have only given us “the short of the long” when we actually need “the long of the long” in order to make a suitable recommendation which is geared specifically toward your case. Therefore, I will only be able to give you general advice, unless you are willing to provide us with more pertinent details at a later date. We are all standing by to assist you get through this. Feel the love my brother.
[color=#FF0000]Uncontested or contested? Entitlements to assets?[/color]
You haven’t indicated whether or not the divorce proceedings are uncontested or contested. I would have to assume that they are contested because you wouldn’t need to come to Forumosa if the divorce was uncontested and mutually agreed upon by both you and your wife. However, it’s never that easy, is it? So, I will also assume that it is you that wants the divorce and your wife is going to try to make you “buy” it from her. Hence, the question about what she’s legally entitled to as it pertains to your assets acquired before marriage and during marriage. You obviously don’t want her to have any claim to the money you inherited upon the death of your mother (God rest her soul) and probably no claim to the house you purchased with her in Taiwan, either. The answer is….as far as your wife is concerned, the house belongs to her because it’s in her name and the cars belong to her because they’re in her name, too. As you can gather from my two case studies, the “law” and the equitable distribution of assets at 50/50 is not realistic. Your wife wants what she wants and she’s going to get her pound of flesh out of you no matter what. Are you able to prove with tangible evidence at least one of the ten grounds for a contested divorce? If not, then my original poor advice regarding the house and cars might start sounding more likely, at least from her perspective. Sorry about that.
[color=#FF0000]Regarding the house you bought[/color]
Did you use cash from your home country to purchase the house outright, (assuming it’s actually an apartment and not a real house) or did you bring just enough for a down payment and then your wife got a mortgage loan in her name for the remaining balance? I would have to bet you brought enough for a down payment and your wife secured the mortgage and you now make monthly payments. Why? Because you said that the house was in her name because of you waiting for your JFRV ARC arriving next week. If you bought an apartment for $5 million NTD and you brought the total amount with you and bought it outright, you could have your name on it regardless of your visa status. However, if a mortgage loan is needed, almost all banks require a Taiwanese citizen with an id card to secure the mortgage loan, and then the house has to be put in the Taiwan citizen’s name. Once that’s completed, the Taiwan citizen has the option to “gift” a percentage of the apartment to you by going to the land title office and filling out some paperwork. However, for the life of the loan, the apartment must be in your wife’s name, unless the bank will allow the mortgage to be transferred to you as the sole responsible borrower. Doubtful it will happen. Taiwanese banks don’t even like to give us lousy foreigners credit cards if they can help it. So, finally acquiring your JFRV ARC is irrelevant and won’t make any difference in being able to get your name on the apartment if you currently carry a mortgage. Check with the bank. See if they would be willing to transfer all financial responsibility from a Taiwanese citizen to a foreigner who for all intents and purposes won’t even have an ARC once your divorce is finalized.
[color=#FF0000]Regarding your JFRV ARC status[/color]
Once you get divorced, you no longer rate this status. If you wish to remain in Taiwan, you will first have to leave and re-establish your residency after your divorce is finalized. You know what that does? It resets your five year clock for qualifying for permanent residency (APRC). So, whatever time you’ve accrued toward becoming a “free man”, you’ll have to start all over again from zero. Sorry about that.
[color=#FF0000]Regarding the recommendation for a good lawyer[/color]
Sorry. I can’t. They’re all wonderful, highly educated, professionals. I wish we had more attorneys like them in the US who possess the integrity, know how, etc. But it doesn’t matter because even if you hire the biggest, greatest, smartest, bestest attorney on this crappy little island, their hands are still tied by the “law”. They can’t wave a magical wand and force your wife to accept the terms for divorce. They can’t file for a contested divorce and get a judge to rule in your favor unless you can satisfactorily prove at least one of the ten grounds for a contested divorce. All they can do is take your money, waste your time and try to negotiate with your wife and/or your wife’s attorney on your behalf in order to give her a deal she can finally agree with. I think you should be able to do this yourself. Why pay an attorney to haggle for you?
So, my advice is to negotiate directly with your wife and somehow come to an agreement for terms of divorce. Once you’ve agreed, it’s no longer a contested divorce, it’s an uncontested divorce and easy to finish. Once you’ve come to an amiable arrangement, you can then hire an attorney to draw up the terms of the divorce, both you and your wife sign them and then go to your HHRO and complete the process.
So, I started the fire. We now have the proper beginnings to create a useful divorce thread which we can all use to share information, stories, pain, and offer assistance for the well being of all Forumosans. Post your personal stories and experiences regarding divorce. Post your advice regarding divorce. How many of you have actually taken the divorce process all the way from mediation to actually having a judge make a ruling? How many of you came to a negotiated settlement with your spouse directly and avoided the waste of time and money involved with a protracted fight? How many of you have had good or bad experiences with attorneys? That’s what makes Forumosa such a great resource for its members. I know there are many of you out there who have gone through the divorce procedures and could contribute your wisdom to this thread. Don’t make me dig out your old posts from 2003 and 2004. Share them yourselves!