Divorce in Japan may be accomplished by agreement between the two parties, filed at a local government office. This process is entirely extra-judicial and therefore there is no need to appear in court. Both parties must agree on distribution of assets and any potential custody arraignments for children. Otherwise the family court will need to get involved to make these decisions.
While most divorces are carried out by mutual agreement in a non-judicial proceeding, judicial divorce is also available in Japan for situations where the husband and wife cannot agree. However, a couple may only file for a judicial divorce under one of the following conditions: 1) a spouse has committed adultery, 2) one spouse abandons the other in bad faith, 3) it is not clear if one spouse is dead or alive for 3 years, 4) one spouse suffers from severe mental illness from which there is no prospect of recovery, or 5) there is other grave cause for divorce.
When a couple divorces in Japan, the family name of the party who changed his or her name shall revert to the original pre-marriage name. A divorced husband or wife who wishes to keep his or her married name after the divorce may do so by written notice within three months of the time of the divorce.
In Japan, there are four possible ways to obtain a divorce. The first, and most common, is Divorce by Agreement (kyogi rikon 協議離婚). Both parties must agree to the divorce and the distribution of property. The second is Divorce by Mediation in a family court (chotei rikon 調停離婚).