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Even if infidelity breaks down a marriage and leads to divorce, unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as the third party involved unreasonably interfering in the marriage in a bid to prompt a divorce, the third party is not liable for paying damages for the divorce.

14 Comments

The Supreme Court, ruling against a man who sued another man with whom his ex-wife had had an affair during their marriage for causing the mental suffering of divorce, saying that he had no grounds to do so.

© Mainichi Shimbun

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14 Comments
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Blaming the person who you aren't in a relationship with is a common way to deal with the fact that your partner cheated on you and lied every day. It's easier to blame the third party, even though they could feasibly also have been lied to.

But even if they weren't lied it, it is still not their responsibility that your relationship failed. The fault lies with your cheating partner.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

I 100% agree with this ruling. It is only the responsibility of the people in the marriage to decide what is and is not acceptable in their marriage, and it is only the responsibility of the people in the marriage to maintain fidelity.

It is not my job to worry about your marriage. If your S/O is wandering, that is between the two of you. I guess you could seek damages from your spouse, possibly. But it's not my job to know the state of your marriage. I mean, am I responsible if I never find out that you're married? What if I'm told that they're single?

It's especially important to know who decided to get a divorce? Did he decide to divorce because she cheated (rather than try to improve their relationship?) and then sue for damages because of the "pain of the divorce"? There's a lot missing here but nothing that tells me that this other man is responsible.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

From a legal standpoint, you have to ask where the burden of proof is.

I think it would be ridiculous for someone to be sued for sleeping with an unhappily married wife after being propositioned by the wife herself. In that scenario, there should be a huge burden of proof on the husband to to show that that someone had deliberately wrecked his marriage, which I think is what the courts are getting at with the "unreasonable interference" expression. A spouse is not your chattel, he or she is a person with their own free will.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

"All of that ^ said, marriage is a business contract of a sort - a promise to create a family, have and raise children together - a 25-year financial commitment as well as a lifetime commitment of upbringing and care."

I normally agree with you Maria but not on this. Marriage is indeed like a business contract of sorts but I don't agree with your view of that contract. Many married can't and/or don't want kids. Including gay couples. This ideology of what marriage is supposed to be is why many state that LGBT should not get married. The "contract" is what the couple decides themselves. Let's be honest, in Japan it often seems that "Man goes to work and provides financial support, woman is the domestic worker and looks after home and kid." Many men here cheat. Many women here cheat and frankly speaking it seems to "work" based on how many view that contract - as long as no one is slacking in the agreed upon duty they're supposed to perform.

To me, the idea of suing the third party is laughable. People cheat for all kinds of reasons. I'm not sure it's always a sign that the marriage isn't working - men having mistresses was always acceptable until recently. If the marriage breaks down, I think it is a sign of larger issues within the marriage, not that someone is off with someone else. Someone wasn't happy and went elsewhere but it still means someone wasn't happy.

And I have to ask, what exactly IS cheating? Physical? Mental? I know a lot of guys who visit soaplands and the like but don't actually have an emotional connection with the women. I know a lot of men and women who have an emotional connection with someone but nothing physical. I'd deem the emotional connection "more dangerous" than paying to get your rocks off by a sex worker but that's just me.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

So is this a change in precedent. The Supreme Court are limiting the scope of the situations where you can sue. I think this is good.

In other countries we cannot bring an action to sue the other man at all (the action has been abolished), because it tends to make the woman seem like the property of the husband.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

All of that ^ said, marriage is a business contract of a sort - a promise to create a family, have and raise children together - a 25-year financial commitment as well as a lifetime commitment of upbringing and care.

If a business contract were broken because Company C slipped in and stole Company A from Company B with whom it had made a long-term contract (stay with me here), would Company B be able to sue?

If so, then go for it.

The quote doesn't state if there are children involved. That puts a whole other level onto the problem. What if the ex-husband has lost custody of his children due to the divorce? That causes a lot of emotional distress.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

@Maria

If a business contract were broken because Company C slipped in and stole Company A from Company B with whom it had made a long-term contract (stay with me here), would Company B be able to sue?

I have no idea how a company could "steal" another company. Company A is an independent company as must have made a choice to break the contract with B (wherein company C is not responsible, only A is). The only way the this could not be the case is if we are assuming that a company has ownership of another, in which case it's not a good analogy for modern marriage in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

*The wife, I mean, not the woman

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This sounds a bit like the legal concept of alienation of affection. An alienation of affection lawsuit is when an outsider interferes with a marriage causing it to end. Defendants in these suits are often an adulterous spouse's lover, but family members, counselors, therapists, and religious members who have encouraged a spouse to get a divorce have also been sued for these matters. Claims are challenging to establish and involve many elements like proof of entailed love, alienation and destruction, malicious conduct, and more. Showing proof of extramarital sex is not required, however. In the United States , six states still allowed these lawsuits as of 2016. In the others, this claim has been legally abolished. It seems like this is what the Japanese Supreme Court has also done.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@tmarie -

The "contract" is what the couple decides themselves.

Yes, absolutely. And in this case, the man wanted a wife who didn't go off into the bushes with another fellow. :D

It is interesting, this case, in that here it is the man who is suing. Isn't that a bit unusual - isn't it usually the woman who sues, because of the unspoken agreement that the man can philander as long as he continues to provide for the family, and doesn't get a divorce?

What is the male:female ratio for this kind of situation?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I was always under the impression that the third party is liable to pay damages in cases like this. So is this supreme court ruling basically stating that unless you do it with intent to break up a marriage, you are not liable for damages? Or only if you are willing to fight it up to the supreme court?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

AGree 100% with Belrick.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as the third party involved unreasonably interfering in the marriage in a bid to prompt a divorce

The 3rd party interfered the moment they started messing around with someone's spouse!

The Supreme Court is run by idiots!

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

This line should not be in italic :

*The 3rd party interfered the moment they started messing around with someone's spouse!*

The Supreme Court is run by idiots!

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

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