Do married couples have a duty to support each other even when separated?

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Married couples have a duty to financially support each other during the course of their marriage.  This duty to support exists even when the spouses are living separately.  Usually these support payments will take the form of monthly bank transfers, similar to child support after divorce.  The amount of money should be enough to provide for the daily necessities of the lower-income spouse.

However, there is an exception to this rule.  When one spouse unilaterally leaves the family home unreasonably (for example, in order to pursue a relationship with another person), the remaining spouse generally does not have a duty to continue to pay marital support.  In making this decision, a judge will consider the circumstances of the spouses’ separation and their intent to remain married.

It should be noted that, even in the above scenario, if the departing spouse takes a child, or children, away from the family home, the remaining spouse will have a duty to pay marital support.  In this circumstance, the courts will enforce the duty to pay marital support because a failure to pay could endanger the child.  Although this might not seem fair to the paying spouse, it is important to keep the best interests of the child in mind.

If you have any questions about marriage in Japan, please contact our office to set up a consultation.