Types of Divorce in Japan

Different types of divorce in Japan are as follows:

【Divorce by Mutual Agreement】

This is a type of divorce where the couple goes to the city office to get divorced by submitting a Notification of Divorce form. Both parties shall agree to their divorce and any matter involved in such divorce. Most of the time, this type of divorce can be done only if one of the parties is a Japanese national.

【Divorce by Arbitration】

When divorcing by arbitration, the couple goes through a divorce proceeding with the Japanese court. Such divorce will be arbitrated by a judge of the court. If both parties are not Japanese nationals, the couple must use this method to get divorced in Japan. Note that this is different from a judicial divorce and no party is filing a suit against the other party.

【Judicial Divorce】

If the parties could not reach an agreement with the divorce itself or matters regarding divorce by arbitration, the parties may choose to move on to a judicial divorce. In this case, one of the parties will file a lawsuit against the other party. In Japan, a lawsuit regarding divorce may be filed if one of the following situations is applicable:

①Adultery

②Intentional Neglect

③When life or death of other party is indefinite for more than 3 years

④When one of the parties suffers from a severe mental illness, and is beyond recovery.

⑤Other significant reasons that cause difficulty keeping a marital relationship (For example, domestic violence, alcoholism, debt, excessive gambling, sexlessness, etc.)

For foreign or international couples, it is recommended that the couple reaches a mutual agreement with divorce, as well as matters regarding divorce.

Many couples create a divorce agreement in advance to avoid any problems at the time of divorce application submission. In the case there are properties to be divided or children from the marriage, divorce agreement may be crucial. To make such document official, the couple may use the notary officer on base (if couple is US military), embassy, consulates, or a Japanese notary.

Especially if there are children involved in the divorce, the Civil Code of Japan highly and strongly recommends that an agreement regarding child support be created between the divorcing couple. See below.

《Article 766》

If parents divorce by agreement, the matters of who will have custody over a child, visitation and other contacts between the father or mother and the child, sharing of expenses required for custody of the child and any other necessary matters regarding custody over the child shall be determined by that agreement. In this case, the child’s interests shall be considered with the highest priority.