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.
The petitioning party (the spouse asking for a divorce) will need to list one of the 5 conditions as part of the petition to the court. In many cases, the “grave cause for divorce” acts as a catch-all that will allow most couples to divorce.
After petitioning for divorce, one or more mediation meetings will be held for the couples with mediators and a judge. The divorcing couple will not meet each other during this process and will communicate through the mediators.
Mediation will take place once every few weeks depending on the circumstances and schedules of the participants. The mediators will attempt to get the couple to either reconcile or agree to a division of assets and custody of children as part of the divorce. Mediation will continue until an agreement can be reached, or an amicable resolution is deemed impossible. This usually will take at least 2 or 3 sessions.
If you have any questions about divorce in Japan, please contact our office for a legal consultation.