As international marriages and divorces increase in Japan, in order to lessen the difficulties for non-Japanese speaking spouses, most Japanese family courts are staffed with mediators that can speak English. However, these mediators may be of varying levels of skill and sometimes it may be easier to bring an attorney or bi-lingual friend to the mediation to help interpret. The court should be informed of this beforehand and in some cases the approval of the other spouse may be required.
Beyond participating in the mediation, it is also helpful to have a translator present to deal with the various forms and instructions that the spouse will need to understand. Once the mediation is completed successfully, a judge and a court clerk will explain the next steps in the process to the spouse. These instructions may be in Japanese so having a translator is critical to ensure that the spouse understands what he or she needs to do.
Furthermore, any forms that need to be signed will also be in Japanese. It is always best to have a foreign language form translated into a language you are comfortable with before signing it.
If you have questions about family mediation in Japan, please contact our office for a legal consultation.