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Japanese gov't to submit bill to introduce joint custody after divorce

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The Family Law Subcommittee of the Justice Ministry's Legislative Council recommended in its report that parents decide together on whether they have sole or joint custody of their children, with a family court only intervening if there is a dispute.

If there is suspicion of child abuse by one parent or domestic violence, a family court will choose one of the parents to have sole custody, said the report.

choice of joint custody is a step in the right direction, but couples divorcing in Japan many years ago could willingly choose to co-parent. One parent would receive full custody and simply allow the other parent to remain involved in the child’s life. Some parents chose that route. 

A problem remains, however, when a distressed divorcing parent desires to remove the other parent from the child’s life. That distressed parent is not going to choose joint custody and can resort to false claims of domestic violence, which can easily be done in Japan, where no evidence is required to file a domestic violence claim and enter a government-run shelter for two weeks.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

So the same ways to avoid joint custody as abducting a child in a foreign country and taking them back to Japan? Can't say I'm surprised.

But in an urgent situation where a consensus cannot be reached in time, one of the parents can decide on their own, the report said.

So many things in Japan are wishy-washy like this.

5 ( +15 / -10 )

If the dinosaur conservatives were consistent they would have solved this problem by seeking to make divorce illegal with the argument that it would promote family cohesion and traditional family values.

-11 ( +4 / -15 )

It's only taken 50 years for Japan to start to catch up with the modern world. Hopefully, they will structure child support as well. Currently, there is no structure. It's only what the ex says (usually the mother). My ex-wife demanded I pay her ¥200,000 per month and she would let me see my kids to take them out to lunch once a month. I told her I couldn't afford to pay it and wanted to negotiate to an affordable amount. I also told he I wanted to see my kids every second weekend. She refused to negotiate and cut me off completely. I haven't seen my kids for ten years and there is nothing I can do about it. I approached the family court and was told that was no way of getting to see my kids unless she agreed to it. I went to the apartment to beg her to let me see my kids through the intercom and she called the cops. I waited outside my kids' school so I could see them. I saw them, they told their mother and she put a restraining order on me. I did nothing to this woman to make her act like this. The only reason she did it is, because she could. Hopefully, this new structure will stop these unruly tyrants making their kids become estranged from their fathers.

19 ( +25 / -6 )

Hopefully, this new structure will stop these unruly tyrants making their kids become estranged from their fathers.

Your ex-wife, like many distressed spouses, used the children as a tool to injure your heart — which, in itself, is a form of child abuse, but perhaps not one recognized in Japan unfortunately.

13 ( +21 / -8 )

while opponents say it may not necessarily benefit a child in cases where abuse or domestic violence is involved.

Well that's a good reminder how much those opponents are out of touch with reality: at least in 50-60% of the cases the sad reality is that in Japan both parents are abusing the child and both parents are committing domestic violence. The latest incidence was reported on this site yesterday!

So in all those cases giving sole custody to one parent is the most irresponsible thing to do. (Which Japanese lawmakers and courts give zero damn about at the moment and they do it anyway exposing those children to endless misery by their sole custodian)

If there is suspicion of child abuse by one parent or domestic violence, a family court will choose one of the parents to have sole custody, said the report.

Yeah, but what if both parents are abusers and violent??? Will they do something about that?

https://japantoday.com/category/crime/parents-arrested-in-fatal-poisoning-drugging-of-4-yr-old-daughter

Also as it was commented above, false claims in Japan require no evidence, so this wishy-washy way of writing the law makes things even more confusing than before.

Also: this does not really make it clear what happens when one parent does not adhere to the agreement? Will that parent be punished? Will his/her custody right be revoked? ????

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Finally!

8 ( +9 / -1 )

A 1000 years late, but better late than never.

3 ( +7 / -4 )

A 1000 years late, but better late than never.

agree. its a step in the right direction.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

So the same ways to avoid joint custody as abducting a child in a foreign country and taking them back to Japan? Can't say I'm surprised.

But in an urgent situation where a consensus cannot be reached in time, one of the parents can decide on their own, the report said.

So many things in Japan are wishy-washy like this.

Excellent point

-10 ( +6 / -16 )

Divorce is not usually a good thing for kids and the family will be broken regardless. Joint custody is just the the least terrible of all the bad options. But knowing Japan even if they pass this law they will probably have no enforcement mechanism and no jail time or punishment for noncompliance.

-5 ( +10 / -15 )

This will be a major step forward. The old laws are based on assumptions that no longer hold true.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Miraculous. Sloooooow but gradual progress is the J-way.

very true.

But knowing Japan even if they pass this law they will probably have no enforcement mechanism and no jail time or punishment for noncompliance.

Exactly!

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

Oh No ! What went wrong Japan?

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

So, when will the Kidnapping STOP, so many foreign born children are being kidnapped by their mothers then Disappearing as soon as they arrive in Japan. Even those that are born in Japan are being kidnapped by their mothers.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

So, when will the Kidnapping STOP, so many foreign born children are being kidnapped by their mothers then Disappearing as soon as they arrive in Japan. Even those that are born in Japan are being kidnapped by their mothers.

In 2011, Time magazine published an article titled “Japan is a Haven for International Child Abduction.” In the decade since, Japan has ratified the Hague treaty (2014) and will soon be offering a choice of joint custody (2024). However,* **in practice*** Japan apparently remains a haven for child abduction — domestically and internationally — **for those willing to make false, fabricated claims to achieve their desired outcomes.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

So long overdue. I couldn’t believe Japan did not have joint custody until I found out at my own expenses.

Now we need to hope that the actual law does not get diluted in the typical Japanese way of showing as things are changing just for them not to change at all.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Man also kidnap their child or children born in another country and once back in Japan it take 15 years of legal court inaction by then the child or children are adults. So it not just Japanese women who abuse the system Japanese man also abuse the system

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

...while opponents say it may not necessarily benefit a child in cases where abuse or domestic violence is involved.

In Japan, I know so many divorce cases where there were no issues of abuse or domestic violence but the mother got sole custody. Even when the father was very kind and much better off financially than the mother but still couldn't see or spend time with his kid(s).

These were situations where the mother and father no longer got along but not between the father and kids. Joint custody or a much more liberal allowance of parental visiting rights by fathers is by far the most humane way of handling divorces where children are involved.

In the US, I was so glad I was able to occasionally see my dad after my parents' divorce. Those memories with him are so precious.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

NationalJapanese gov't to submit bill to introduce joint custody after divorce

oh really?

better to be last, than never, I guess?

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Great news! It has been long overdue.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

If there is suspicion of child abuse by one parent or domestic violence

Very low hurdle to allege abuse but I guess it is some progress. Feel bad for so many children, fathers and grandparents who were unable to have even short visits during childhood.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The panel proposed to make it mandatory for a parent living apart from the child to pay child support.

as the country can not cover it, poor Japan is putting a new burden on ex-husbands who will work for a child he cannot see...

Clearly, japan is anticipating an increase of divorces..

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

A problem remains, however, when a distressed divorcing parent desires to remove the other parent from the child’s life. That distressed parent is not going to choose joint custody and can resort to false claims of domestic violence, which can easily be done in Japan, where no evidence is required to file a domestic violence claim and enter a government-run shelter for two weeks.

Isn't that considered desirable? By the time you can "prove" domestic violence claims to beyond reasonable doubt, you may well be dead or crippled.

If one side is willing to file false claims, it isn't a friendly divorce anyway, in which case coerced Joint Custody can easily end in disaster. You can't take the supposed better outcomes from Joint Custody in the West (where most divorces go to court and thus they include many friendly divorces) to Japan where courts mean a clearly Unfriendly Divorce.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Kazuaki Shimazaki

Isn't that considered desirable? 

Your spouse disappearing into a shelter with your children most certainly would not be desirable if you’re an innocent left-behind parent who loves his children deeply and has dedicated a lot of time and energy to their growth.

I have no problem with adults who feel a need for the safety of a shelter. But, all too often in Japan, a parent will enter a shelter with children and use the shelter to separate the kids from the other parent. Then, after years of separation from the other parent during required mediation or a family court case, judges will grant legal custody to the parent who has physical custody so as not to disrupt the life of the child. In Japan, those who have physical custody secure legal custody, and the shelters are used to get that initial physical custody.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Kazuaki Shimazaki,

If one side is willing to file false claims, it isn't a friendly divorce anyway, in which case coerced Joint Custody can easily end in disaster.

The separation of the couple might be mutual and friendly. However, if unproven claims of domestic violence, abuse and the like, are enough to guarantee sole custody of the children for the claimant - and some people are just spiteful that way, surely that encourages such claims to be made. In that way, a friendly divorce becomes unfriendly through the false actions of one party; the one who benefits, obviously. Also, specifically for marriages involving a non-Japanese partner, there'll be no surprises as to which way the winds blow. And, of course, those claims can be made any time after the divorce, when the custody arrangement has been settled, in response to any issues that may arise between the couple after the fact.

All such accusations should be taken seriously, of course, and the wellbeing of the kids is paramount. But all parties should be afforded the same rights of presumed innocence and the ability to see one's kids - under supervision if necessary.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You aren't looking at it from a system perspective. It doesn't know Innocence from Guilt. It knows the presence or absence of a claim, the presence of which has a certain probability of being true, and whether the policy is to avoid false positives or false negatives.

At least the current scheme avoids the worst case. Ultimately, when a claim is received, it can only be used as the basis of a certain level of action. Selecting inaction risks a strongly negative result - such as the death of the kid you chose to not shelter. Given the circumstances, it's perhaps inevitable that any DV claim against you will be greatly prejudicial to your chances, simply because the cost of being wrong is so great.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Kazuaki Shimazaki

At least the current scheme avoids the worst case. 

No necessarily. The current scheme encourages claims to win custody. The parent making the claim may not be the best parent for the healthy physical and emotional growth of the child — particularly if that parent will resort to fabrication to achieve a desired outcome. Studies would likely reveal that absconding parents are more likely to engage in parental alienation and are less emotionally stable — all of which can’t be good for a child.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is about time - shout out to the previous JT commentator who is going through an ordeal to visit his children; I hope this serves him well.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This new law makes so much sense.

while opponents say it may not necessarily benefit a child in cases where abuse or domestic violence is involved.

It was specifically stated that in cases of abuse or violence the courts could allocate sole custody, so you have to wonder where these naysaying opponents bat from?

This is a clear opportunity to do what's right. Just follow the research and science for the long term well being of the child. Divorce is messy and sad but it must be done with a mature adult mindset, for the sake of the kids because it effects them deeply and for life.

Would those opposed to the new bill perhaps be those beniffitting from the current 'shut out' system still in place? Reading Disillusions post ( I get the name now man) above is a heart wrenching example of a system that enables this continued abuse and through no fault of his own, and due to his inability to see his kids and show them he isn't a monster they have been turned against him. The mother sounds like she has no clue or simply doesn't care the longterm damage she has done to her own kids. Tragic on all fronts. Everyone is losing.

There will be the other type fighting the change for the usual logistic reasons, ie they don't think the court system could handle the extra cases it has to hear, or there's not enough lawyers. The usual mentally lazy types that we see everywhere, that refuse to make any effort to make things better and find excuses not to.

Anyway, to all those parents living in pain due to unresolved conflict I hope this may be a sign of hope. Well, overdue.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The bill mentions absolutely nothing about visitations which is absolutely important in maintaining a relationship with the child and the cut-off spouse (usually the husband). And, I can't help but say it but it seems this new bill again benefits women. They'll now not only get to keep and/or kidnap the child without any repercussions but they'll also be awarded child support. Yes, there are some bad men out there but there are also a lot of good ones, too. It's kind of a small step in the right direction but I really don't see any significant change.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

DisillusionedToday  07:36 am JST

It's only taken 50 years for Japan to start to catch up with the modern world. Hopefully, they will structure child support as well. Currently, there is no structure. It's only what the ex says (usually the mother). My ex-wife demanded I pay her ¥200,000 per month and she would let me see my kids to take them out to lunch once a month. I told her I couldn't afford to pay it and wanted to negotiate to an affordable amount. I also told he I wanted to see my kids every second weekend. She refused to negotiate and cut me off completely. I haven't seen my kids for ten years and there is nothing I can do about it. I approached the family court and was told that was no way of getting to see my kids unless she agreed to it. I went to the apartment to beg her to let me see my kids through the intercom and she called the cops. I waited outside my kids' school so I could see them. I saw them, they told their mother and she put a restraining order on me. I did nothing to this woman to make her act like this. The only reason she did it is, because she could. Hopefully, this new structure will stop these unruly tyrants making their kids become estranged from their fathers.

The exact same thing happened to me and it's been exactly 10 years as well. Now, my daughter is 22. I've only seen her 3 times since after she was born. Japan really needs to address this and stop hiding from the fact that there are men who want to and deserve to be in their childrens' lives but the mothers are making it impossible.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

And, I can't help but say it but it seems this new bill again benefits women. They'll now not only get to keep and/or kidnap the child without any repercussions but they'll also be awarded child support. 

You hit the nail on the head. Japan will be able to promote its adoption of joint custody while keeping the sole custody option open (including abductions) for those who wish take advantage of it and securing greater financial support of single parents (generally mothers).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A step in the right direction but careful not to step in the same caveat as many western countries.

My ex-wife reneged on the child support we "amicably" agreed upon at The time of the divorce (she cheated, she was making 4 times more money).

I had the children but broke and no family in Japan to help.

But Canada blocked our leaving for Canada based on its interpretation of the Hague convention and Canadian dual custody.

I needed her signature to get the children's Canadian passports, her permission to move to Canada which she decided not to do unless I paid her for it all and I am not talking a few hundred thousand yen but in the tens of million yen. (Which I didn't have but she expected my parents to sell their house to pay her)

So my children for their "protection" according to the Canadian government remained in Japan in basic poverty like many other single parents, and it is even worse for a gaijin single parent!

I know many friends in Canada that the ex despite not paying the bulk of the cost for the children were blocked from getting a higher paying job in a different location because the ex refused to give permission to move beyond a certain distance.

Included in any changes should be, if the ex spouse without primary custody blocks the one with primary custody, then they should have to pay the difference in pay or lost revenue for blocking!

In Japan this can be a big deal, if one parent is the primary caregiver and they are transferred for example from Tokyo to Osaka they usually must do so or lose their job.

If the other parent blocks the primary caregiver from moving and they suffer lose of revenue or lose their job then the one blocking should be responsible to pay.

This is not a vindictive thing this is a way of assuring that the children have a proper home, and do not suffer loss or end up in poverty.

My view is strictly based on what is best for the children.

Yes being able to interact with both parents is important but if that results in the living conditions being less than ideal then doing what is best for the livelihood of the children should be the priority!

I speak from experience, children are not stupid, it doesn't matter how much I tried hiding things, they knew went the rents was late and utilities not paid and they suffered the stress of wondering if they would end up homeless.

I always managed in the end but had we been able to return to Canada they would have not had such stress, a good job was waiting, a house was available, family to help me care for them etc...

The new law needs to be balanced with common sense for what will benefit the children more and that is not always a few days a month or even a week with the other parent but is sometimes material things like housing, schools, extracurricular activities, etc... things that will better prepare them for their future!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

MoonrakerToday 07:11 am JST

If the dinosaur conservatives were consistent they would have solved this problem by seeking to make divorce illegal with the argument that it would promote family cohesion and traditional family values.

-8( +4 / -12 )

Comedy gold. I wonder how many of these 12 would prefer divorce to be illegal? It's the "dinosaur" they object to.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

At least the current scheme avoids the worst case. Ultimately, when a claim is received, it can only be used as the basis of a certain level of action. Selecting inaction risks a strongly negative result - such as the death of the kid you chose to not shelter. Given the circumstances, it's perhaps inevitable that any DV claim against you will be greatly prejudicial to your chances, simply because the cost of being wrong is so great.

You're right, and it's a point I partially covered in my second paragraph. But it shouldn't be a zero-sum game in which the first to make a claim wins. It just encourages and rewards false accusations. Even imprisoned murderers may receive visitation rights, although I'm not sure about in Japan. It wouldn't be hard to establish some kind of supervised visitation with a parent who has been accused of violence before the accusation can be proved.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This needs to be enforcable. People splitting amicably can already do what they want. The issue is how to use the law to protect the rights of both parents in non-amicable divorces.

My overall impression of Japan is that the nail sticking out hardly ever gets hammered down. That saying is a myth. For child custody, if one parent kicks up and says "Iya da!" strongly enough, or simply kidnaps the child, they will win. They will get their own way. There is no hammer to hammer them back into shape, just a shrugging of shoulders and a "this is Japan, what do you expect?" type blaming of the victim.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I second the commenter who pointed out that the proposal does not say anything about visitation rights, which are just as important as having a say in education and medical treatment, which is odd since that was the source of necessitating the whole change in the first place I believe.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Well better late than never I suppose.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If there is suspicion of child abuse by one parent or domestic violence, a family court will choose one of the parents to have sole custody, said the report.

What a croc of crap, just like the Hague convention. No proof required just the word of one side that they "fear DV" and no proof required, no access to child.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is relatively good news although it’s still far from being ideal or a fair system. At least when the parents agree, they can get the custody. It’s sure better than the current system that one parent can never see the children after divorce. I always wonder what the children do wrong to lose one of their parents if parents have to divorce. The current law is punishing children the most for their parents divorce.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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