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Family Affairs: Engagement, Marriage, Divorce

更新日:2022年11月22日

Please read them before using the service.

  • The FAQ is a general introduction to the legal system in Japan and does not provide answers to specific individual questions.In addition, depending on your individual circumstances, the Japanese legal system may not be applicable.
  • If you would like to know if there are any FAQs that are not listed here, or if you would like to discuss your specific needs, please contact the Multilingual Information Service (0570-078377). It will provide you with information on FAQs and consultation services based on the nature of your inquiry.
  • Please note that Houterasu cannot be held responsible for any damages that may result from attempting to resolve specific individual problems based on the FAQ.

Contents

Engagement

Marriage

Divorce

Q01: Do I have to pay compensation to the other person if I break off an engagement?

  • If there is a justifiable reason, you can break off the engagement without incurring any liability.
  • If there is no justifiable reason, you will have to compensate the other party for the damage caused.

(Explanation)
・If there are circumstances that make it impossible for a couple to have an amicable married life in the future, and it is recognized that there is a justifiable reason for breaking off the engagement, the engagement can be broken off without incurring any liability.
・For example, if one party has lied to the other about the amount of their salary, debts, or other important aspects of their life, it is considered a legitimate reason to break off the engagement.
・If an engagement is broken without a justifiable reason, it is considered a breach of promise, and damages must be paid as compensation.

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Q02: What procedures are required when two foreign nationals residing in Japan get married?

  • A marriage registration should be submitted to the office of the municipality where the foreign nationals reside.
  • The marriage registration form must be submitted together with documents showing that each of the foreign nationals is eligible to marry under the family law of their home country/countries (generally, a certificate of no impediment to marry).
  • The foreign nationals may also apply to their home country/countries’ embassy or consulate in Japan to register their marriage in accordance with their home country/countries’ procedures.

(Explanation)
・Foreign nationals residing in Japan can get married in Japan by submitting their marriage registration form and documents showing that each of the foreign nationals is eligible to marry under the family law of their home country/countries (generally, a certificate of no impediment to marry) to a family registry desk.
・Since foreign nationals do not have Japanese nationality, they do not have a family register, so this marriage registration will not result in the establishment of a family register.
・Proof of marriage can be provided by a certificate of acceptance of the registration or a certificate of the contents of the registration.
・If foreign nationals submit a marriage registration to their home country/countries’ embassy or consulate in Japan in accordance with their home country/countries’ procedures, there is no need to submit a registration at a Japanese family registry desk.

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Q03: What procedures are required when a foreign national residing in Japan marries a Japanese national in Japan?

  • A marriage registration should be submitted to the office of the municipality where the Japanese national resides or to that of their registered domicile.
  • The marriage registration form must be submitted together with documents showing that the foreign national is eligible to marry under the family law of their home country (generally, a certificate of no impediment to marry).

(Explanation)
・The registration will be accepted by the municipal office and sent to the municipality where the Japanese national’s registered domicile is located after it has been verified that both the Japanese national meets the requirements for marriage in Japan and the foreign national meets the requirements for marriage in their home country.
・When submitting a marriage registration to the municipality where the Japanese national resides, it is advisable to attach a copy or extract of the Japanese national’s family register (or, if their registered domicile has computerized their records, a certificate of all or part of the family register information).
・For foreign nationals who have been granted refugee status under the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, the laws of Japan, their place of residence, will be deemed to be the laws of their home country.

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Q04: I am a foreign national working in Japan with a status of residence that allows me to work. Can I bring my family to Japan?

  • Your family may be able to stay with you under the “Dependent” status of residence.
  • For short-term visits, your family may be able to stay in Japan under “Temporary Visitor” status.

(Explanation)
・Status of residence should be applied for at the Japanese embassy in the applicants’ home country.
・However, as a rule, dependents and temporary visitors are not allowed to work in Japan.
・If a foreign national has resided in Japan for a long period of time and has been granted “Permanent Resident” status, their family members will also be able to stay permanently as “Spouses or Children of a Permanent Resident.”

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Q05: I am a foreign national, and my spouse is a Japanese national. I am living in Japan under the “Spouse or Child of Japanese National” status of residence. If I live separately from my Japanese spouse, will I be unable to continue living in Japan?

  • If it is deemed that, based not only on living separately but also on comprehensive consideration of other factors, a couple’s relationship has broken down and the marriage no longer has a substantive basis in social relations, the foreign spouse may lose their status of residence as “Spouse or Child of Japanese National.”
  • If the foreign spouse wishes to continue residing in Japan after the marriage has lost its substantive basis in social relations, they must change their status of residence from “Spouse or Child of Japanese National” to another.

(Explanation)
・A foreign national who is legally married to a Japanese national is granted the status of “Spouse or Child of Japanese National.” However, in the event of divorce, or if it is deemed that a couple’s relationship has broken down and the marriage no longer has a substantive basis in social relations, it is possible that an extension of the period of stay will not be granted or that the status of residence will be revoked.
・Whether or not the marriage has lost its substantive basis in social relations is determined not only on the basis of living separately, but also on comprehensive consideration of other factors, such as the circumstances and duration of the separation, the existence and extent of contact between the couple, and the sharing of living expenses (in other words, “separation” is not judged solely on the fact of living separately, as there may be cases where legitimate reasons for living apart are acknowledged, such as living away for work).
・In the event of a divorce from the Japanese spouse, or if it is deemed that a couple’s relationship has broken down and that the marriage no longer has a substantive basis in social relations, it is possible that the foreign national will lose their status of residence as “Spouse or Child of Japanese National.” Therefore, if the foreign spouse wishes to continue residing in Japan afterwards, they must change to another status of residence (Long-Term Resident, etc.).
・Once a foreign national has lost their status of residence, it is very difficult to obtain another one. If they wish to change their status of residence to another, they should do so while they still have the status of “Spouse or Child of Japanese National.”
・If you are concerned about your status of residence, it is best to consult with a lawyer or other specialist and receive appropriate advice based on the practices of the Immigration Bureau and judicial precedents.

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Q06: Can I claim living expenses from a spouse who is living separately from me?

  • Yes.

(Explanation)
・Even if a married couple is living separately, they have a mutual obligation to support each other until a divorce is finalized.
・Monthly living expenses can be claimed on the grounds of the obligation to provide support, depending on income and the number of dependent children. These are referred to as marital expenses.
・If a couple is unable to reach an agreement on marital expenses, a petition for conciliation regarding the sharing of martial expenses may be filed at the family court to settle the issue with a judge and domestic relations conciliation commissioner acting as intermediaries.

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Q07: I am suffering from spousal violence. What should I do?

  • If you feel you are in danger, you should first consult with the police or a spousal violence counseling and support center (women’s centers, gender equality centers, etc.; the names vary) for assistance.
  • Next, it is recommended that you consult with a lawyer.

(Explanation)
・Spousal violence (domestic violence) is a serious violation of human rights that includes criminal behavior.
・Spousal violence counseling and support centers provide consultations about moving into a temporary shelter.
・In some cases, it is possible to petition the court for an order to prohibit the spouse from following the victim around or wandering near their residence or workplace (restraining order), an order to temporarily evict the spouse from the residence (eviction order), an order to prohibit the spouse from contacting the children, an order to prohibit the spouse from contacting relatives, or an order to prohibit the spouse from making phone calls.
・Violence can also be grounds for divorce and claims for compensation.
・If you have been subjected to violence or injured by your spouse, you can file a criminal complaint.
・Houterasu provides legal consultation services to victims of domestic violence regarding the prevention of further harm, regardless of their financial resources (legal consultation aid for the victims of specific acts of trespass against the person (meaning spousal violence, stalking and child abuse)). If you wish to use this service, please call the Multilingual Information Service (0570-078377).

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Q08: I got married last year, but within a short period of time, my husband became violent. I feel scared when he shouts at me in a loud voice. I don’t have anywhere to go, so I’m going to endure it and stay in the home.

  • If a spouse hits you, you should go to the hospital and obtain a medical certificate for your injuries.
  • If you feel your life is in danger, don’t hesitate to call the police.
  • You can also consult with your local municipal office or the women’s consultation center in your prefecture, where there are people who deal with women’s issues (such as women’s counselors). If you want to leave home, ask the women’s counselor if temporary shelters are available.
  • If you are getting a divorce and the time comes to renew your status of residence during the procedures for divorce conciliation, etc., consult with the Immigration Bureau about the fact that you are currently undergoing divorce conciliation due to domestic violence. In this case, a medical certificate and the history of consultation with a women’s counselor will be useful.

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Q09: I obtained a restraining order to avoid violence from my spouse, but I am worried that my children will be taken away. What should I do?

  • Under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act, a restraining order protecting the children who live with a victim of domestic violence can be filed alongside the restraining order protecting the victim themselves.
  • If a child has reached majority age, a restraining order can be filed protecting the victim’s relatives.
  • It may also be possible to file a warning under the Anti-Stalking Act or a petition for a provisional disposition under the Civil Provisional Remedies Act.

(Explanation)
・The official name of the Domestic Violence Prevention Act is the “Act on the Prevention of Spousal Violence and the Protection of Victims.”
・The official name of the Anti-Stalking Act is the “Law on Proscribing Stalking Behavior and Assisting Victims.”
・When a minor child and the victim live together, in order to prevent the victim from being forced to visit the violent spouse (abuser) as a result of the abuser taking the child away, the victim can file a restraining order to prohibit the abuser from loitering in the vicinity of the child’s school or usual place of residence for six months.
・If the child is 15 years old or older, a restraining order concerning the child can only be filed with the child’s consent.
・The Anti-Stalking Act proscribes stalking behavior, such as repeatedly following a victim or a person who has a close relationship with the victim for the purpose of satisfying professed feelings of love and fondness for the victim, or feelings of resentment resulting from such feelings being unfulfilled.
・A warning can be issued under the Anti-Stalking Act by filing a complaint with the police.
・If following of the victim or similar behavior occurs, the Public Safety Commission can issue an order prohibiting such behavior against the other party after following certain procedures. In urgent cases, the Public Safety Commission may issue a prohibition order without going through these procedures.
・A provisional disposition for a restraining order or prohibition of visitation is filed with a court under the Civil Provisional Remedies Act.
・If there is a need to determine which procedure is most appropriate, it is recommended to consult with a lawyer or other professional.

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Q10: Can I receive protection under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act even after divorce or while I am in a common-law marriage? Is it possible if I am a foreign national or a man?

  • You can receive protection under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act even after divorce, while in a common-law marriage, or after the termination of a common-law marriage. Foreign nationals and men are also eligible for protection.

(Explanation)
・After a divorce, continued violence by an ex-spouse is also grounds for protection under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act.
・Under this law, the term “spouse” includes persons who are not registered as married but are de facto married (common-law husband or wife), and the term “divorce” includes de facto divorce between persons who were not registered as married but were de facto married. As such, those in a common-law marriage (de facto marriage), or those who have dissolved such a relationship can still receive protection under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act.
・However, if the violence or threats did not occur during the marriage or common-law marriage, but began after divorce or dissolution of the common-law marriage, the Domestic Violence Prevention Act does not apply, and the Anti-Stalking Act should be used.
・The Domestic Violence Prevention Act applies not only to violence by a spouse or common-law spouse, but also to violence by a partner who lives or used to live with the victim.
・The Domestic Violence Prevention Act applies regardless of the gender or nationality of the victim, so men and foreign nationals who are victims of domestic violence can also receive protection. Those who are involved in the protection of victims of domestic violence and investigations and trials must respect the human rights of victims, regardless of their nationality, and give due consideration to their safety and confidentiality when performing their duties.

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Q11: We are a married couple consisting of a Japanese national and a foreign national residing in Japan. We have both agreed to divorce, so we are thinking of getting a divorce by mutual consent and submitting a divorce registration, but what procedures should we take to have the foreign spouse’s home country approve the divorce in Japan?

  • If divorce by mutual consent is permitted in the foreign spouse’s home country, the divorce will be also approved in the foreign spouse’s home country if a divorce registration is submitted to the relevant municipal office and the foreign spouse’s home country’s consulate, etc. in Japan.
  • If divorce by mutual consent is not permitted in the foreign spouse’s home country, it will be necessary to use court proceedings instead of divorce by mutual consent in order to have the divorce also approved in the foreign spouse’s home country.

(Explanation)
・If one of the spouses is a Japanese national with a domicile in Japan, then regardless of the nationality of the foreign spouse, Japanese law (the Civil Code of Japan) will apply to the divorce, and divorce by mutual consent can be carried out using Japanese procedures.
・However, if divorce by mutual consent is not permitted in the foreign spouse’s home country, a situation may arise in which, even if the divorce registration is submitted to a municipal office in Japan, the divorce is not approved in the spouse’s home country despite being approved in Japan.
・In order to avoid this, it will be necessary to obtain a divorce through court proceedings rather than through divorce by mutual consent.
・Some countries only permit divorce obtained through a divorce lawsuit (divorce by adjudication). However, some of these countries will recognize a divorce obtained through conciliation as a divorce lawsuit if the divorce by conciliation document states that “this conciliation has the same force and effect as a final and binding judgment in accordance with Article 268 of the Japanese Domestic Relations Case Procedure Act,” so it is advisable to check how this is handled in the foreign spouse’s home country.
・You can also inquire about the legal system of a foreign country by contacting that country’s consulate, etc. in Japan.
・For more information, please consult with a lawyer or other specialist. It may be necessary to consult with lawyers, etc. in the relevant foreign country, so we recommend asking your lawyer, etc. whether this will be required.

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Q12: I am worried that my spouse will file for divorce without my permission. What should I do?

  • You can file a request with the municipal office not to accept the divorce registration.
  • However, a request for non-acceptance of divorce registration cannot be made if both parties are foreign nationals.

(Explanation)
A request for non-acceptance of registration is a system established to prevent false registrations of marriages, etc., which become effective upon registration, from being accepted without a person’s knowledge and being recorded inaccurately in the family register. This is an effective option if there is the risk of a divorce being registered without a party’s consent.




<<Outline of the procedure>>
・This is a preemptive request to the mayor of the municipality where the applicant’s registered domicile is located not to accept a registration unless it can be confirmed that said registration was made by the applicant themselves.
・This system can be used for registrations of acknowledgment of paternity, adoption, dissolution of adoption, marriage, and divorce, which become effective upon the submission of registration.
・Requests can only be filed with respect to matters in which the applicant is the subject of the registration, such as the father in cases of acknowledgment of paternity, or either party in cases of marriage and divorce. It is also possible to make a request specifying the party regarding whom registrations should not be accepted.
・Requests can be made either at the municipal office where the applicant’s registered domicile is located, or at the municipal office where the applicant’s residence is registered.
・If there is a night duty officer present, it may be possible to have the duty officer receive your request for non-acceptance even if it is outside the municipal office’s business hours.
・Once a request is made, there is no limit on its period of validity. Until the request for non-acceptance is withdrawn, the relevant registrations will not be accepted.
・When the mayor of a municipality rejects a registration of divorce, etc., which was submitted without someone’s knowledge, they are required to report this to person who submitted the request for non-acceptance.
・For more information, please inquire at the counter at the relevant municipal office.




<<For foreign nationals>>
Because the purpose of this system is to prevent the inclusion in family registers of records that are not in accordance with the intentions of the parties concerned, it cannot be used in cases where both parties are foreign nationals, since there are no family registers to which it applies. If one of the parties is a Japanese and the other is a foreign national, the Japanese party will have a family register, so either the Japanese or the foreign national may file a request for non-acceptance.

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Q13: We are a married couple, both foreign nationals, living in Japan. What procedures do we need to follow to get a divorce?

  • If the laws of the spouses’ home countries are the same, and those countries’ laws permit divorce by mutual consent, then divorce by mutual consent can be granted. If the couple has not agreed to divorce, or if divorce by mutual consent is not permitted under the laws of their home countries, the divorce will be obtained through court proceedings.
  • When foreign nationals are party to a divorce, there may be an issue of whether or not the Japanese courts can be used, but if both spouses live in Japan, either divorce conciliation or a divorce lawsuit can be held at a Japanese court (family court).

(Explanation)
<<Divorce by mutual consent>>
・In the following cases, if both spouses agree to divorce, a negotiated divorce can be granted.
(1) If the laws of the spouses’ home countries are the same, and those countries’ laws permit divorce by mutual consent (however, in some cases a divorce by mutual consent should be carried out in accordance with the procedures specified by the spouses’ home country rather than the Japanese procedures).
(2) If the laws of each spouse’s home country differ, but both spouses are resident in Japan.




<<Divorce through judicial proceedings>>
・If a couple is unable to come to an agreement on divorce, then court proceedings will be used.
・Even if both spouses agree to a divorce, if divorce by mutual consent is not permitted under the laws of their home country, it will be necessary to obtain a divorce through court proceedings.
・Furthermore, even in cases where divorce by mutual consent under Japanese law is possible, there are cases where divorce by mutual consent is not recognized under the laws of the home country of one or both spouses, and the couple may deliberately use court proceedings in order to have the divorce approved in their home country/countries.
・If both spouses are resident in Japan, either divorce conciliation or a divorce lawsuit can be held at a Japanese court (family court). Before filing a divorce lawsuit, a divorce conciliation must be held (the Principle of Conciliation First), but if circumstances are such that a divorce through conciliation will not be approved in the spouses’ home country/countries, a divorce lawsuit can be filed without conciliation.
・Among those countries that only permit divorce obtained through a divorce lawsuit (divorce by adjudication), there are some that will recognize a divorce obtained through conciliation as a divorce lawsuit if the divorce by conciliation document states that “this conciliation has the same force and effect as a final and binding judgment in accordance with Article 268 of the Japanese Domestic Relations Case Procedure Act.” As such, it is advisable to check how this is handled in the spouses’ home country/countries.
・If the laws of the spouses’ home countries are the same, the divorce will be judged in accordance with the laws of said home countries in the proceedings before the Japanese court (family court). If the laws of the home countries of the spouses differ, the decision will be made based on Japanese law (the Civil Code of Japan), which is the law of their place of habitual residence.




<<Points to note>>
・Even foreign nationals must submit a divorce registration form to the local government office once the divorce is finalized.
・Even if divorce is possible in Japan, there are cases where it is in the best interest of the parties to go to a court in the relevant foreign country to resolve other issues related to the divorce, such as child support, visitation, and distribution of property.
・For more information, please consult with a lawyer or other specialist. It may be necessary to consult with lawyers, etc. in the relevant foreign country, so we recommend asking your lawyer, etc. whether this will be required.

02375

Q14: Can I have a lawyer accompany me during a divorce conciliation?

  • Yes, you can have a lawyer accompany you.

(Explanation)
・In family law conciliation, due to the nature of the process, the individuals involved are, as a rule, required to attend. However, if there are unavoidable circumstances, it is possible to have a representative appear in place of an individual involved.
・Also, with the permission of the court, an individual may appear with an assistant who accompanies the individual and provides support to the individual in making statements.
・If permitted by the court, anyone can act as a representative or assistant, but the court may revoke this permission at any time.
・A lawyer may act as a representative or assistant without the permission of the court.

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Q15: What happens regarding parental authority over children in the event of a divorce?

  • If there are any minor children at the time of divorce, parental authority must be assigned to one of the parents.

(Explanation)
If any children are minors, parental authority is determined in the following manner.
(1) Divorce by mutual consent
One of the parents is assigned parental authority by mutual agreement, and the divorce registration is submitted. If no decision can be made on parental authority, divorce by mutual consent cannot be granted. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, parental authority can be determined through conciliation at the family court, with a judge and domestic relations conciliation commissioner acting as intermediaries.
(2) Divorce by conciliation
When divorce conciliation is conducted at family court, parental authority will be determined. In determining parental authority, the wishes of the child(ren) must be taken into consideration in light of their age and level of development, and an investigation by a family court investigator may be conducted.
Conciliation is a forum for discussion, so there may be times when no agreement can be reached. In such cases, the divorce conciliation is generally terminated as unsuccessful. After divorce conciliation is terminated, the parties can proceed to the litigation process for divorce at the family court.
(3) Divorce by adjudication
In a divorce by adjudication, parental authority is determined by the court.
If a child is 15 years old or older, the court is required to hear their opinion on parental authority when it is determined as part of a divorce case.

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Q16: When a married couple consisting of a Japanese national and a foreign national divorces, what happens regarding parental authority over children?

  • In cases where the father or mother is Japanese and a child is of Japanese nationality, parental authority will be determined in accordance with Japanese law (the Civil Code of Japan).
  • Under Japanese law (the Civil Code of Japan), when parents with minor children divorce, parental authority must be assigned to one of the parents. Even in the case of a divorce by mutual consent, the divorce registration will not be accepted unless the person with parental authority is stated in the divorce registration.

(Explanation)
・If a couple is unable to reach an agreement on divorce and parental authority, court proceedings will be used. If the other party (the other spouse) is resident in Japan, it is possible to apply for divorce conciliation at a Japanese court (family court).
・When foreign nationals are party to the case, there may be an issue as to which country’s law will be used as the basis for the decision, but if the father or mother is Japanese and a child is of Japanese nationality, parental authority will be determined in accordance with Japanese law (the Civil Code of Japan).
・Under Japanese law (the Civil Code of Japan), after divorce, one of the parents will have parental authority over the child (sole parental authority). It is not permitted for both parents to have parental authority (joint parental authority).
・In deciding who will have parental authority, the decision is made from the perspective of which of the parents will best serve a child’s welfare, giving comprehensive consideration to the circumstances of the parents, such as each parent’s financial means, living environment, physical and mental health and character, love for the child, ability to care for the child, and continuity of custody, as well as the circumstances of the child, such as the child’s age, physical and mental condition, continuity of living environment, and the child’s wishes.
・If discussions regarding parental authority do not reach an agreement, a method of appointing a custodian separate from the parent with authority and having the custodian actually take care of and educate a child may be considered. However, in the future, there may be conflicts of opinion between the parent with authority and the custodian regarding the child’s upbringing and other matters, and communication with the other party may become a great mental burden, so please make your decision after careful consideration.
・After divorce, a parent remains the parent of a child even if they do not obtain parental authority. Clear agreements should also be made regarding visitation and child support payments.
・For more information, please consult with a lawyer or other specialist.

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Q17: In the event of a divorce, what criteria will be used to determine who will have parental authority over children?

  • A comprehensive judgment is made from the perspective of the welfare of the child, but there are no clear standards because the actual situation of the parent-child relationship differs in each case.

(Explanation)

・The factors to be considered when designating the parent with parental authority or a custodian are not specified in detail in law. In practice, decisions are made from the perspective of a child’s welfare.

・Specifically, the circumstances of the child, such as age, gender, physical and mental condition, adjustment to the current situation, ability to adapt to a new environment, and the child’s wishes, and the circumstances of the parents, such as ability to take care of the child, degree of affection for the child, financial means, and living environment, are comprehensively considered and judged from the perspective of the welfare of the child.

・The following tendencies can be observed from judicial precedents.

(1) Continuity of custody

(2) Priority given to the mother if the child is an infant

(3) Respect for a child’s wishes if the child is old enough to make decisions (generally 15 years old).

(4) Siblings placed under the authority of the same parent to the extent possible

(5) Even if one party has committed culpable behavior, such as adultery, they are not automatically deemed unworthy of parental authority.

・Consult a lawyer for further details.

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Q18: Under what circumstances can compensation be requested in the event of a divorce?

  • If the primary cause of the divorce is the other party’s culpable behavior, it is possible to request compensation for the divorce itself.

(Explanation)
・In this case, culpable behavior refers to conduct that violates marital obligations, such as adultery, physical or psychological abuse, or malicious desertion (non-payment of living expenses, etc.).
・Even if there is culpable behavior on the part of the other party, if the degree of such behavior is minor, it is possible that the request for compensation will not be granted.
・If there is culpable behavior by both parties, these shall be compared, and the party whose culpable behavior is the greater shall pay compensation to the other.
・If the cause of divorce is simply irreconcilable differences, or if the other party is not deemed to have engaged in culpable behavior, or if both parties have engaged in culpable behavior to the same degree, compensation for divorce is generally not granted.
・Consult a lawyer for further details.

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Q19: Can I claim compensation from my spouse’s extramarital affair partner?

  • In the following cases, compensation can be jointly claimed from the spouse and the affair partner.
  1. If the partner intentionally has physical relations with another person in the knowledge that the person in question has a spouse.
  2. If the partner inadvertently has physical relations with another person even though, had they exercised due care, they could have known that the person in question had a spouse.

(Explanation)
・Judicial precedents allow for compensation to be claimed from an extramarital affair partner. However, if the affair partner did not know that the spouse was married and was not negligent in not knowing, they will not be liable for damages.
・As a general rule, if the marriage had already broken down at the time of the adultery, compensation will not be granted. If the couple has not divorced even after the infidelity is discovered, it may be determined that the marriage has not broken down and there is no substantial damage.
・For more information on what kind of evidence is needed regarding the act of adultery and the awareness of the affair partner, it is recommended to consult a lawyer.

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Q20: Can I claim for living expenses after a divorce?

  • If there is an agreement between the parties or if a judgment has been issued, it is possible to file a claim on that basis, but otherwise it is not possible to file a claim for living expenses against an ex-spouse after a divorce.

(Explanation)
・If there are any children in need of support, both parents are obligated to share the costs of childcare even after divorce, and the parent who is raising the child may request child support from the other parent.
・Conversely, since the obligation of support between spouses ceases on divorce, personal living expenses cannot be claimed from an ex-spouse.
・At the time of divorce, financial issues between spouses are usually resolved through distribution of property, compensation, and pension division. In particular, when deciding on the distribution of property, the amount of money may be adjusted to reflect the cost of living after the divorce, but this is not considered to be the main purpose of property division. As such, even if a claim is made in court, it is often not taken into consideration unless there are special circumstances, such as the length of the marriage, whether or not either party is culpable for the divorce, the extent of culpability, the income of both parties, and whether or not either party has an illness or disability. Therefore, it will be difficult in reality to receive living expenses from the other party unless they agree to such.

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Q21: I got divorced a few years ago. Can I request compensation from my ex-spouse?

  • Compensation for divorce can be claimed within three years from the time the divorce is finalized.

(Explanation)
・In the case of a divorce, compensation is paid as damages for emotional distress incurred as a result of being forced to divorce for reasons for which the other party is responsible (such as adultery). The right to demand payment of such compensation is legally considered a “right to claim damages based on tort.”
・In principle, the right to claim damages based on tort will be extinguished by prescription after three years from the time the victim or their legal representative becomes aware of the damage and the perpetrator.
・With regard to compensation for divorce, it is considered that “the damage and the perpetrator are known” when the divorce is finalized.
・In addition, the right to claim compensation for individual culpable acts during marriage is extinguished by prescription after three years from the time of the culpable act. However, if the victim’s life or physical well-being was damaged by culpable behavior by the other party, such as an injury caused by violence from a former spouse during marriage, compensation can be claimed within five years from the time of the act.
・Consult a lawyer for further details.




[Revision of the Civil Code (Law of Obligations)]
・The above explanation is based on the provisions of the revised Civil Code, which came into effect on April 1, 2020.
・Please note that the provisions prior to the revision may apply in cases where a tort was committed before the date of enforcement.

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Q22: What is distribution of property?

  • The distribution of property generally refers to, in the event of a divorce, the liquidation from an equitable standpoint of the property that the couple has accumulated through cooperation during their marriage.

(Explanation)
・If a couple has accumulated property together during their marriage, they can claim a share of the property even if the property is held in the name of one party or the other.
・Property unrelated to the couple’s cooperation (separate property), such as inherited property or property that was already owned at the time of marriage, is not subject to distribution of property.
・If the parties are unable to reach an agreement on the distribution of property, a petition for conciliation at the family court may be filed to settle the issue with a judge and domestic relations conciliation commissioner acting as intermediaries.
・If the couple has not yet divorced, the claim for distribution of property is usually filed during the divorce conciliation. If the conciliation does not result in a settlement, it is common to file a divorce lawsuit and make a claim as a part of that lawsuit, rather than having a judgment on distribution of property alone.
・Compensation and unpaid marital expenses may be taken into account in the name of distribution of property.
・Under the Civil Code, a claim for distribution of property cannot be made after two years have passed since the divorce.

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Q23: Can I make a claim for distribution of property even after a divorce?

  • Even after a divorce, you can make a claim for distribution of property within a certain period of time.

(Explanation)
・A claim for distribution of property cannot be made after two years from the time of the divorce.
・If the other party does not agree to payment of the distribution of property, a petition for conciliation at the family court may be filed to settle the issue with a judge and domestic relations conciliation commissioner acting as intermediaries.
・Even if two years have passed after a divorce, it is still possible to reach an agreement with the other party outside of court for payment of the distribution of property. However, given that the family court procedure will no longer be available, if the other party refuses to negotiate, it will not be possible to receive any property.
・If claiming compensation for divorce separately from the distribution of property, as a general rule, compensation can be claimed for up to three years after a divorce.
・For specific cases, we recommend that you consult with a lawyer.

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Q24: If I am a guarantor of my spouse’s debt, will I still be liable as a guarantor after divorce?

  • Liability as a guarantor remains even after divorce.

(Explanation)
・A guarantor is responsible for fulfilling a debt (paying back a debt) on behalf of the principal debtor (i.e., the person who borrowed the money) when the principal debtor fails to fulfill the debt (does not return the borrowed money) to the creditor (lender of the money). This liability is based on the guarantee contract between the guarantor and the creditor.
・Even if married, each member of a couple is a separate person and can legally enter into a contract independently, with each bearing separate liability under said contract.
・Therefore, it is not possible to avoid liability as a guarantor just by divorcing a spouse who is the principal debtor.
・If a party wishes to stop being a guarantor, they must negotiate with the creditor to have the guarantee contract canceled. In such a case, they may be asked to negotiate with the principal debtor and provide a substitute guarantor, or to pledge real estate (land or a building) as collateral.
・Consult a lawyer for further details.

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Q25: Is it possible to divide pensions in the event of a divorce?

  • Employee pensions (welfare pensions, mutual aid pensions, etc.) are subject to the pension division system.

(Explanation)
・In the event of a divorce, employee pensions (welfare pensions, mutual aid pensions, etc.) can be subject to a claim for pension division (division of pension records for the period of marriage). The National Pension Plan (basic pension portion) is not subject to pension division.
・If a couple divorces on or after May 1, 2008, the pension records for the period of marriage on or after April 1, 2008, during which one of the spouses was insured under Category III, can be divided only at the request of one of the spouses (Category III division). All other pension records will be divided by agreement between the couple (division by mutual consent). If the couple have difficulty negotiating an agreement, they can use the conciliation process at family court.
・If a party has already started receiving pension benefits at the time of divorce, it is not possible to divide the pension that they have already received (in cash or savings). However, it may be possible to request a distribution of property separately from the pension division system.
・For more information, it is recommended to consult with the Japan Pension Service, the respective mutual aid associations, the Promotion and Mutual Aid Corporation for Private Schools of Japan (Mutual Aid Division), or a specialist such as a lawyer.

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