Divorce between US-Japanese Couples

There are different ways to get divorced in Japan from your Japanese spouse.

・Mutual Agreement Divorce (Kyogi Rikon)

This is the most common way to get divorced between a US-Japanese couple. You and your spouse will fill out a “Report of Divorce” and submit it to the city office.  You are divorced the moment you submit the Report, and the city office will issue a Divorce Certificate in 1-2 days.

Getting divorce under this method, you will not get any document stating alimony, division of property, child custody, child support, or any other details pertaining to your divorce. In the case there are matters to be discussed and determined between you and your spouse upon divorce, such as alimony, child custody/support/visitation, settlement, division of property including real estate, vehicle, or personal belongings, retirement plan, etc., you want to create a “Divorce Agreement” to make the arrangement into a written document, and get it notarized to make such document official.

・Divorce through Court (Rikon Saiban)

If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement on matters pertaining to your divorce, you may commence a divorce suit at the family court. There are 3 types of divorce suit:

– Divorce Mediation

Settle issues through a mediation by the court judge.

– Adjudication (Divorce by Court Judgement)

This type of divorce happens when the divorce mediation did not reach a full agreement between the parties, yet the court determines that the couple should get a divorce.

– Divorce Suit

One party may sue the other party upon divorce based on one of the following grounds: (1) adultery, (2) desertion, (3) if the other party’s life or death is unknown, (4) the other party becomes affected by severe mental illness and there is no chance of recovery, or (5) other material grounds making it difficult to continue the marital relationship.

Note: It is common to get a divorce through the court in many countries. However, in Japan, the only time a couple would go through a court proceeding for divorce is if there are issues between the couple that need to be solved with a help of the court, including adultery, child custody, obligations, and division of property.

David Higgins is a full time Japanese/English translation company owner located in Okinawa, Japan. David, his wife Hazuki and four employees and various freelancers of other languages run Okinawa Translator. They specialize in translation of all kinds of documents, technical manuals and on site interpreting for instructional safety classes with the military to family reunions. They have expanded their business all over Japan and overseas to serve customers in any location.

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