Can one spouse unilaterally file for divorce based on the other spouse’s adultery?

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To obtain a court-ordered divorce in Japan, there must be statutorily recognized reason for granting the divorce.  Adultery is one of those five recognized reasons.  However, while adultery does provide a potential basis for divorce, divorce will not be automatically granted when one spouse has been unfaithful.

Judges are given the discretion to determine whether, considering the circumstances in their entirety, it is possible to continue the marriage.  Therefore, even if one spouse has cheated on the other, if the judge believes that there is still hope for the marriage, the judge can reject the petition for divorce.  Whether the marriage is able to be saved or not requires a very fact specific analysis and the judge will consider all the evidence presented at trial before making his or her decision.

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