Divorce in Japan

1. In Japan, divorce is simple as long as an agreement is reached. The Japanese national only needs to register the divorce at city hall.

However, foreign nationals need to file for divorce with their home countries, in such cases the foreign courts require a court decree for divorce, which needs to be processed before a family court.
In many countries, the mediation settlement in family court is equal to a court decree. If mediation can not be a court decree, please consult a lawyer of your home country. If an agreement cannot be reached out-of-court, then the case must be mediated in family court.
Although a lawsuit can be brought to family court if the preceding actions have failed, the party responsible for the divorce can not sue for divorce.

Even if you are not at fault, you should be aware that a divorce suit requires strict reasons of divorce which are limited by a Japanese Family Law. The reasons are: adultery, willful desertion, incurable insanity and something like that. This means that incompatibility cannot be a reason.

In many countries, long-term separation can be a reason for divorce, but it cannot be a reason under Japan’s family law. However these days you can find cases in which a plaintiff would file for divorce due to a less-than 10 year separation and be granted a divorce. In these cases most husbands paid alimony for the remainder of their former wives lives.

Finally, if both parties are foreigners you may file for divorce as long as you have lived more than five years in Japan under Japanese jurisdiction. However, your home countries laws are also applicable.

2. Custody in Japan,

When you have the child, the custody after the divorce is important. If one of you is Japanese and the child lives in Japan, you must follow the Japanese law. Subject to the Japanese law, the custody always comes to one of you. Joint custody is not recognized.

The father gives up custody as the mother is granted custody unless she gives up her right of custody.

3. Division of assets

Assets obtained during marriage are divided equally, even though the wife did not earn an income. Any assets obtained prior to marriage are those of the original owner. Inheritance is excluded from the division of assets.

Kaneko Hirohito Law Office
Wako-Ginza 8-chome Bldg. 7F 8-10-4, Ginza, Chuo-ku Tokyo 104-0061, Japan [MAP]
Tel: 03-3574-8535 / Fax: 03-3574-7144 / Email: